Yes, this an enormous picture. But you know what? It’s out of my hands now. I mailed it out yesterday morning, and what happens next, happens next. For the past year and then some, I had been lamenting my lack of productivity. While I know there is no reason to rush a manuscript, that coercing it will typically yield something sloppy, underdone, filled with filler, and topped with weak sauce, I also know that:
- My chapbook, For the City that Nearly Broke Me, found publication last year.
- Diwata won the Global Filipino Literary Award this year, and this reminded me the work was still making rounds and would continue doing so.
- I was teaching two classes at two different schools, and working a close to full time job on top of that.
- I was also reading MFA theses for five graduate students at two different MFA programs. I directed two of these theses. I really should have given much more of my time to this.
- My previous two books and one chapbook continue to be taught, and this brings me into classrooms whenever I can spare the time. This also reminds me my older work is relevant still, to young people newly discovering it, entering the work for the first time and being moved by it. The work is relevant to their teachers and professors who deem it worthy of being taught, of being brought to groups of young people. There’s a challenge here for me, about balance (more like juggling) between different book presentations.
Never mind as well, the stuff I have been doing for PAWA.
I’d been blogging here with my process issues, in an effort to untie all kinds of untidy thematic knots, to confront and eliminate weak links and filler. So the blog was helpful, surely to think out loud, but mostly as a discipline, to write every day at least one poem each day, to assign myself a list of tasks, to prioritize items on that list (cut, write, edit, revise, reorder), and to check off each task in a timely manner.
Something else I did this summer, which I have not done in a long time was hand write poems, actually take a pencil to a stack of binder-clipped paper. Who knows how much of a difference that really makes, but for me, it was an interesting (nostalgic) experience; it made me feel like I was really accomplishing something, really writing poems (as if banging away at a keyboard is not writing poems). It reminded me of the time before I had my own computer, and out of necessity, spent a lot of time scribbling in notebooks, or taking my printed drafts, and handwriting new poems on the blank sides of the pages.
For this manuscript too, I was handwriting baybayin without referencing a baybayin chart, without relying upon typing in Paul Morrow’s Tagalog Lopez font to get my characters right, and that was also a pretty rad experience.
So, the manuscript, You Spitfire Girl, is in transit. I had forgotten that feeling of pulling 64 pages off the printer, clean, warm, with the aroma of toner, straightening and clipping it all together, then walking to the post office, hand addressing the envelope, and then handing it all over to a postal worker, actually having a human conversation in the process. Submittable and various other e-subs has taken this experience away!
What’s next is that I need to remind myself to (1) celebrate an accomplishment, and (2) rest. What happens next, happens next.