The Thing about Publishing.

I’m drinking coffee at my desk.  The baby’s napping, Lance took Vincent for a walk. I’ve just noticed a couple phrases Lance scrawled on the legal pad on my desk at some point in the last day or so: “Robust incoherence” and “transcendent vacuity”.

I don’t know if he was criticizing something himself or quoting someone else in awe, but, Ouch!

I have alway felt sympathy for the pain of a bad review, hoping in a vague amorphous way not to ever experience it myself, while also thinking, A scorching by M. Kakutani or W. Logan? I should be so lucky!

But now that I have a chapbook, which actual other people who are not my mother or husband or best friends are reading, I understand those writers who avoid reading reviews, a querulous mention in PW, or tart dismissal in the back section of Poetry.

(Though again, really, I should be so lucky.)

As a poet, I’m used to not being much remarked upon or noticed (and I’m not suggesting that will change). But what I’m coming to terms with now is the very tangible fact that when you publish a collection, not just a poem or two in journals but a pile of poems all together for compare-&-contrasting, people will have opinions about it.

Obviously. I know. And yet. When your focus is writing and publishing, getting your work out there, “out there” is far away, and you’re removed from what “out there” means: strangers, who may or may not think your work is shite.

So it’s a delightful surprise when someone out there reads your work, and likes it, and then tells other people about it, an unexpected peach: “Marvelous things will happen”: Thank you so much to Sandy Longhorn for her generous post about Hunger All Inside!   Sandy’s blog has turned me on to many other poets, she’s an abundace of poet-advocacy — I’m happy to have been noticed and noted so positively.  Lucky me!

6 responses to “The Thing about Publishing.”

  1. Marie, you’re so welcome. Enjoy the ride!

  2. I am a publsher – but where are all the interesting submissions? – for my thoughts on this

  3. there certainly are risks to being out there! good for you for braving them. your work is available to readers because of this kind of courage.

  4. 🙂

    I Googled the phrases from the first paragraph, & apparently they’re from a Doonesbury strip on Oct. 25! The strip itself doesn’t come up, however. 😦

  5. Gah, it’s awful and awesome — as in awe-inspiring — that once you let go of it, a work of art isn’t yours. I imagine that in some ways it’s like having a child, though I can’t complete this analogy, as I only have cats. But perhaps it is like having a cat: you have a dear cat who you love very much, despite the fact that she bites the fur out of her tail and has a more-than-passing resemblance to both Gertrude Stein and a gremlin, and other people don’t like her because she looks funny and she’s shy. I had my first negative review a while ago, and it was a shiver!

  6. YOU, a negative review? No, I refuse to believe it, I cannot countenance such a scandal. I dread the day for myself.

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