Sunday, October 24, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
My fears are pretty simple. Mostly it comes down to a fear of failure and that old bugaboo that haunts a great many people: that people will find out you aren't worthy of whatever attention they have been paying to you, or the attention you want from them. It's a hard thing to define as I guess everyone has some degree of feeling like a faker in life no matter how confident you project yourself.
I have been writing/creating art pretty much my whole life. I have a certain inborn facility for it. What I don't have is discipline. I have quite a bit of education, but I've never ever tried very hard at any of that. In school I did what would probably be considered, the bare minimum amount of work to get the halfway decent grades I usually got. the areas where I failed were areas where my own prodigious reading, and seemingly inborn knowledge didn't give me the answers I needed. This would be your sciences/math. Show your work? Pfft. The answers that came to me often eluded the showing of work, and sometimes those were even the right answers.
Studying has never been my strong suit despite the fact that I read (for pleasure) almost constantly. I'm a sponge. It's how I have always learned, really. I listen to what's being said, often while doodling instead of note taking. My notes were never anything you could study from... doodles, and interesting turns of phrase that the teacher or professor used (often famous quotes) to explain whatever they were explaining. I would always do the readings but just as readings, one time usually, unless I didn't get it.
A good example of this is my film classes in University. I would watch whatever film we had to watch, doodling in the margins of my notebook, occasionally jotting a witty line, or an observation about the actor/plot. Looking back on those notes when it came time to write the essay, I would look at my notes and say to myself, ok that's no help.
(NB: Back in my day we got to see whatever movie once usually... most titles I saw in Uni were often not readily available on tape (No DVDs/No Internet) or for any further viewings.)
Very casually I'd hit the library at U of M for magazine articles, books on whatever film, and genre, taking quotes, ideas to shape my essay, again very little note taking, actually. Then the night before whatever essay was due, I'd start actually writing. If I didn't "get it" in one draft, I'd crawl to whatever Prof and ask for an extension. Usually my essays were a week or longer overdue. I may have had some "A's" in there, but was always marked down for lateness, or my hurried single draft incoherence. My ideas however were always given praise. This was all I really required to feel good about what I'd done.
An interesting difference in how I write though appears when I seriously started to write poetry, which developed out of my high school-ish writing of crappy rock lyrics that I indulged in during my first few semesters at University. This happened when I discovered the Beats (through friends at school, not through classes I took), and modern poetry (mostly of the Canadian variety) and realized that my crappy song lyrics were not the way to go specifically since I hate trying to rhyme things.
My poetry is a far different beast than my more scholarly ummm, "efforts". I write and re-write most every poem many times, often dozens if not upwards of a hundred drafts it takes me to do each and every poem, with a few exceptions here and there, that spill out pretty well the first time.) It's far more like sculpting than any other kind of writing that I've tried. I have pieces that I've been "tweaking" for almost 20 years. I'm also someone who if I had more stuff published would still be tweaking things that had been published if I felt it needed to change somehow. This technique worked for Walt Whitman.
Anyway, where the fear comes in for poetry and me is not getting up and reading it somewhere (I do get nervous sometimes, especially if it's been awhile since I've read in public.) or showing my work to someone, or getting edited/graded on the work. I can roll with that, and feel that I've improved a lot of work that I've gotten feedback on, through that feedback. For example when I did more freelance back in the late 90's early 00's for local weekly/monthly art rags around town, I learned a lot from the various editors I worked with, and lost any sense of ego I had about my article writing at least.
I am sometimes a bit hesitant about the edginess of some of my poems, but then I'll read someone else's work that makes my "edgy stuff" look like nursery rhymes.
The fear for me is completely that fear of not being good enough, or at best not doing what whoever it is my audience (editors, publishers) might be is not what they're looking for. There are definite "schools" of poetry in this country, and elsewhere. It makes sense to look at what sorts of things are being published in the magazines or at the publishers you are sending your manuscripts to, doesn't it? I feel I never see the kind of thing I'm doing anywhere I look. But that, I'm beginning to think is just one of those rationalizations for fear of rejection - "Oh they aren't looking for my brand of free verse weirdness anyway, so why waste time sending of a submission." - this reeks of fear based rationalization. But I hear myself say it all the time if not in so many words.
No one wants to be rejected, and if you play the publishing game in the 20th century model at least, that's what you are doing. It's all about winning the lotto really. We've been brainwashed by our culture into thinking that everyone has a best seller, or a hit movie script etc, waiting to emerge fully formed like Athena from Zeus' forehead. We're all creative geniuses, if only we could get Random House or Warner Bros to notice.
This is one of the main reasons I've decided to start again do some self-publishing. I'm pretty sure that even if that Ms. I have at Anvil gets accepted, or if I were to spend hundreds of dollars entering "contests" or paying reading fees to poetry journals (and actually getting in print) I'm not going to be earning a living. But I could be spending those entry fees publishing my own books.
One of the best experiences of my life was self-publishing my first chapbook - "Like Bukowski In Drag". With some formatting help from my friend Tom Snyders, I put together what I think still is a great little chapbook. I sold out two small runs of it basically, selling more than I gave away. This qualifies as a successful publishing venture in my opinion, despite the fact that none of the places I sent review copies ever printed any reviews, it's not an unknown quantity at least in the Vancouver scene.
Before my fragile credit card bought world collapsed and forced me to flee to Japan in 2002, my plan had been to have another poetry book published by a new local press, and keep putting out my own chapbooks as well. I've got a lot of unpublished material from my 20+ years of scribbling free verse odes to unrequited love, weird sexual encounters and the general nuttiness I see everyday in the world. The book deal collapsed with said small press while I was in Japan. Outwardly, I shrugged it off, but in hindsight this actually kind of crushed me.
My writing output really slowed the longer I stayed in Japan. I got a digital camera and developed a love of taking photos. All my creative energies soon ended up there, taking photos, editing them in Photoshop etc became my main creative output, with some trickles of poetry still happening occasionally. But the confidence in my writing was not where it had been after "Bukowski” came out.
When I left Japan, flush with cash and feeling less burdened by the debts I was still paying off, and completely confident that I could land an ESL teaching gig that was as cushy and financially rewarding as my post in Tokyo had been. I was wrong. In three months of job searching I discovered that in Canada the ESL racket is just that: a racket. Real life experience teaching in a foreign country had no sway over potential employers, unless you also had a TESL/TOEFL teaching certification, which everyone and their dog had. Often, I was offered the chance to take the course those same ESL schools offered. Paying to work somewhere was how I saw it.
Trying to get non-ESL work was equally frustrating. Eventually I had to go back to part time video store work just to make ends meet. Fear took over my life again, as I retreated into overeating, drinking and chronic pot smoking. I had to move in with friends and finish paying off my debts while earning less than half what I did in Tokyo.
I applied for over a hundred jobs in 2005. Got 3 interviews. No gigs.
With so little going my way in those days, I now almost feel like it was a darker time for me than my just pre- Japan life where I was in debt to my eyeballs, and fearing those collection agency calls etc. I lived a completely unhealthy lifestyle completely out of my feelings of self-loathing. Then I had the high blood pressure "event" which changed my life...
(I'll continue this story with my next entry.....)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I think they make all their money on photo books etc. the forums were filled with people talking about hardcovers and expensive costs, but if you go softcover it's very reasonably priced. i;ll be able to retail for 12 bucks (There's shipping and taxes if you buy online, but not everyone can get a copy from me directly) or at least that's my plan.
More on this hopefully including a link on this blog to my blurb page with how to buy. you might get one before me. I plan to order some on the weekend. Just a small order to start with. Then once I sell a few, turn that money over into more copies.
no TV No Movies in the evening, just work, makes me confused. I feel like it's 3am, and it's just past 10:30pm.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I do however like how easy it was to make a spanking nice cover. I have that part all figured out. Given myself the next week (til payday) to figure out the formatting. The little chapbook I was going to publish is now an actual book of poetry at 80+ pages. I think I will also then apply for an ISBN number through the Gubmint.(sic) Then I can bring it to bookstores maybe?
I am getting antsy that and having a lot of self doubt about being ale to save enough cash to do this project. Luckily I can order as many or as few book as I can afford at a time, and the cost is no less or more than a regular actual publisher would charge you for your books.
But to get to the learning by learning... I feel that I am by thinking of this book project and working on it everyday, learning a lot about how to get some confidence about my writing and my ability to perhaps carve out some kind of discipline from the block of angst,repression & fear that is my creative life. Already in the planning stages I have two more book publishing ideas. One a book of photo-shopped all to hell photos illustrating my eventually complete Arthurian Cycle of poems... which so far aren't really connected, by much other than tone. I'm hoping the photo help me to bring that all together.
Secondly I'd like to do a similar project with my previous chapbook "Like Bukowski In Drag"... planning to do both an e-version of that (as well as all these other ones) as well as a 3rd edition/printing as a "Deluxe hardcover edition with some new poems added, and a lot of artwork as well. Both these projects are in the very early planning stages, and I will update about them as I make progress.
Then there is the novel writing.
My novel that I started last year about this time has been simmering lately in the back of my brain. My plan with that is to have a decent readable/editable first draft done by the spring. Edit it all summer, then publish it myself in the Fall next year. Why no submissions to pub houses? Impatience. i'm going to plow my own fields. I am not adverse however to some house picking up any of my books for more "mainstream editions" if that were ever to happen.
Getting yourself out there and known even in tiny circles as someone producing work that people hopefully enjoy is really all that I'm after. I'd love to be able to supplement my job and perhaps even work there a bit less and more on the writing.
someday. Now to work.
Friday, October 8, 2010
they have (cross platform even) a nice little imposition editor that you can download for free to get your document to fit their specs. You can use your own cover images etc.... and the price is competitive. So I'm re-editing for the next week or so, taking out some weaker pieces and actually bulking the book up a bit with some poems I think share more of a tone, though not content. There's a real melange of themes and ideas, which if you know me is pretty much how I roll. :p
Seriously, I do prefer that kind of book, maybe a few loosely connected poems, or a really long poem or two, but mostly different topics, styles almost every page. It reflects who I am as a writer more. I'm sure I will do more singly themed books in the future as I'm already planning a future chapbook of my Arthurian Cycle. I think that one though will also be a bit of a photo book as well. But more than that I can't yet say, as I haven't quite figured it out yet.
Thing is I've got this book up to 70 pages now (I'm using the smallest cheapest book format they have, though I'm going to mock up a more trade paperback looking one and compare costs.
So much work being a self publisher, even when you aren't doing the actual printing. But It makes me feel good to have some focus most days. I needed to jump into a project of some kind, something with some kind future possibilities, and to me the cheaper and easier it gets for me to self publish, I think the more I will do as much as I have time and money for.
At least that is the plan. I want to see this one book through, how well I can hawk it is another thing altogether, and how fast I sell them will determine how quickly I get to the next one. I actually don't really care anymore whether Anvil even looks at my manuscript.
(I sent in a Ms and a query as to they would be interested in my stuff... I have no idea really if it is what they are looking for. I just sent in as many pages that I love as they asked for and hope for the best, but I won't hear yea/nae the latter being the likeliest, as you have to be prepared to be rejected regardless of how good or bad your stuff is.)
It'd be nice to have if I want to start granting to get work, but I think either way I want to try to do at the very least one self published chapbook a year. Eventually maybe even getting my shit together to self-publish one of my barely started great Canadian novels I have on file.
sigh. I hope I can keep the momentum going Ganbatte!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I'm planning on publishing a chapbook that includes a series of poems I wrote based on a suite of classical music, some random Haiku, the first third of my very own Arthurian Cycle, and at least one biblically inspired (if heretical) inspired piece.
It just might be called "A Cure For Mirrors".... Tentative title from one of the poems. Figuring out the how to finance on my very limited budget is what I've been concentrating on all morning. It looks at first glance that my idea of doing Print On Demand is a no go, mostly because of the prohibitive pricing, and distro options (most bookstores pretend these kinds of books don't exist) and lack of being able to do the book exactly how I want to.
I looked into a local "Espresso Book Publishing Machine over at Oscar's Books on Granville. Too steep again, they've raised their prices since my initial inquiry in the summer, also my chapbook is too short for many of these options. I do also plan on making an E-book of it, perhaps through these guys: http://www.smashwords.com/ They also do the NaNoWriMo which was great fun last year.
I guess what I may to is go to a local print shop (Kinko's -ish) and print off a bunch of covers, and do the interiors myself using a nice little imposition applescript I found that seems to work pretty well. Though it may well be cheaper to print the interior at a copy shop also. Ink is expensive and my printer while sturdy is just an ink-jet.
Buying a laser printer would be a decent investment for future projects. But as I say money is limited. I do want to not stall out on this yet again though. Like my first chapbook, I've been saying I'm going to do this one for a few years now.
I have a bit more actual editing to do, and some tightening up of the technical stuff as well as creating an eye catching cover. I plan to have the content ready in a week or so in terms of little tweaks to pieces that I want to include. It seems like a lot of work, and it is. But I feel like I will be rewarded in these efforts simply by making them. No sane person expects anything out of their chapbook publishing getting your work seen by at least a few fans of poetry.
Also tentatively lined up is my launch, sometime in Nov, Dec, or Jan. depending on how long it takes me to get this done. Some special guests will be there, and I plan to make a fun event out of it, whenever it finally happens.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Okay so I'm going to start updating this blog with the odd rant, essay, story, poem, short film, and/or the usual goofy links from the Internets that I run across in my daily surfing excursions.
Sometimes these rants etc may be of a personal TMI kind of thing, sometimes they may be quirky half assed opinions on things happening in the world, or reviews, opinions slightly less than half assed film, TV, music & pop culture reviews/rants etc.
Whatever it is though that I'm regurgitating on here, I hope will be regularly done, actually. I need to develop more discipline in my artistic endeavors. Eventually I'd like to be filing one "Report" daily, whether it's a new poem, movie review, intellectually bereft, but impassioned screed on some topic I only vaguely understand, or something else.
I think I'll start with a poem, one that I wrote fairly recently and thus is likely unfinished, as I tend to keep editing poems forever, like Walt Whitman (one of my personal heroes if you are looking for further insight into me) I don't see why even after publication, if the poem needs it. Not all do.
Anyhow it's a piece about innocent flirtation, the kind where nothing more than the flirting is important, there is nothing beyond it, at least for me. I enjoy light flirtation as a way to build self-confidence without other overarching concerns about umm "relationships" and all the baggage that comes with expectation from the mating dance. Sometimes (most times for me) the dance is enough to keep me happy. I don't really need more. Someday I might though, I have an open mind.
Flirting With The Girl
every time those milky
curl into psalms
on those lips
crackles of combustion
knead my eyes
up in to
fleshy electric apple
trip & hammer
my blush of
as we struggle
not to giggle
& tease each other's
that we are caught
this clattering of
and shy silent glances
that blind and bind
our voices in knots
entangled in those
© 2010 Joe Boyce Burgess