Finding Time

 

Now what challenges me is finding the time to write. I suppose this is the pact I’ve made because I’ve published my work and if I want to keep publishing my work there is all this work around the work; writing things to get people to read the original thing I wrote can feel so absurd!

Jenny Zhang

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While My Fountain Pen Gently Weeps

Oh dear. Oh good grief. I seem to have made a mistake, a very long time ago. 

I just discovered it because I was closing the windows and noticed how much cooler it is this evening than it was a few nights ago. Which made me think of the grand parties my family used to have on the equinox, with the mulled wine and cider. Yes, and the traditional blue pickles and the clowns, knife throwers, and the trained acrobatic newts.

No really, we had parties like that, as far as you know. Which reminded me of a poem that I wrote and which was published back in 1992. I had to search the archive because I couldn’t remember the title correctly. You’ll see why, I think. 

SOLSTICE

I thought I heard
the summer die.
It was a small sound
and hollow.

He sat here with me
under this sky made of steam
with a tired smile
and his hat on the floor.

We only said good morning
and that was always early.
But there was one day
of rain,
one shower at midnight.

I hope he will forgive me
his sad sad death.

Indeed it is to laugh. Keeping in mind, this puppy was published. In a book, by a publisher. Copies were sold and (mostly) given to people. It was perched like a dead parrot on Barnes & Noble’s site for about 10 years. I think maybe it went out in a couple of journals too. With a title that’s just simply … wrong.

It should have been called Equinox, right? That’s the end of the summer; there’s not a solstice for 3 months in either direction.

What are you gonna do? Sweep it under the rug I guess. So hey, don’t tell anybody.

 

Solstice is from the book Finding Oakland
© 1992 by Kyle Kimberlin
Published by White Plume Press, Seattle.

O Shenandoah

The venerable 61-year-old literary review of Washington & Lee University is now entirely online and free.

http://shenandoahliterary.org/

I commend Shenandoah for the decision to end print publication. Although I like getting literature inked into a codex transportable away from this eye-straining technology; though I enjoy taking a good book out into the real world with me, perhaps to read beneath a tree, nobody can afford to subscribe to everything. And I didn’t subscribe to this. Now they can reach Kyle in California, and presumably a wider audience worldwide.

Let’s wish them luck, is my meaning.

I have a song among my possibles fitting to the topic. Click here to listen to Jerry Garcia singing Shenandoah Lullaby, with David Dawg Grisman on mandolin. Good stuff, Maynard.

The Future of Publishing

US writer John Locke has become the first self-published author to sell more than one million e-books in the Kindle Store on Amazon.

Locke, from Kentucky, used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to publish and sell his nine novels.

http://goo.gl/NtFaZ

He kept creative control, and more of the money. Good for him.

Something Cool

happened on the Internet today. A formerly suicidal (literally) writer named Kiana wrote to a writer named Joe, about the impossibility of getting published in the traditional marketplace. She had taken his advice, she said, went digital, and turned everything around. Her book has been selling on Amazon.

Today she got an extra gift: When Joe shared (with permission) her message of appreciation and hope, her latest’s ebook’s rank on amazon.com shot up around 45,000%. Yeah, 45 thousand percent.

Way to go, guys.

Here’s the whole story.

And here’s a brief quote that stood out as useful for me:

“For the first time ever, writers have a choice.

Choices are empowering. Having the ability to control our futures, even with something as simple as self-publishing an ebook, means we aren’t helpless anymore.

That’s a very good thing.”

The upshot is that we are no longer dependent on a corporate publisher to get our work out there and get money for it. In fact, we can’t rely on that paradigm because it’s different. Some say dying, I say morphing.

Gone are the days when a name publishing house will take a change on a no-name writer. They won’t bring you into the business. With very rare exceptions, you have to do that for yourself. You have to build a platform, as they say. And once you’re established and successful, then maybe they’ll come courting.

When that happens, here’s what you need to remember. 

the nation opens up

One of my favorite magazines, The Nation, has totally revamped – re-launched – its web presence, and taken its website code open source. Very cool.

They’ve posted an article explaining the latter change, from which here are a couple of fair use snippets:

The specific platform we’re using for TheNation.com, Drupal, has a progressive lineage as well. Described as "Software to Power the Left" by new media thinker David Cohn, Drupal was the foundation for the groundbreaking "DeanSpace" online community in 2004, and has since been used and improved by dozens of leading progressive advocacy groups. Today Drupal powers the websites of publications like The New Republic, Mother Jones and The Economist, and provides the content management platform for a little site called WhiteHouse.gov.

What, if anything, does this mean for TheNation.com readers? The great thing about Drupal for a news organization is the flexibility that a public, continuously evolving platform provides. If we wanted to build an interactive package to amplify a groundbreaking investigation, it used to take days. Now there are thousands of programmers who can build it fast – or have already built it. If  we want to change the layout of our homepage or special section to reflect the significance of an unanticipated breaking news event, it used to take three weeks. Now it takes three clicks.

The Nation is a great magazine. It’s been around since 1865, with a firm grip and clear view. I started reading it in college in 1985. Highly recommended for all of my progressive friends.

www.thenation.com

the chapbook tradition

“In these straitened times, how about taking a leaf out of the Victorians’ book and presenting friends and family with pamphlets of our own literary endeavours during the festive season?”

— Books | guardian.co.uk.

This article points out the long and storied tradition of giving handmade chapbooks as Christmas gifts. Is it seeing a modern resurgence? Perhaps. Part of me hopes so. What’s nicer than getting several hours of peace, alone with words and your imagination? Especially in winter. A cup of tea, a little escape from the world, a psychic connection to someone else.

But as a writer, I caution against it, unless you’re one of those rare people who can give and let go, without investment in feedback. (I’m getting there, slowly.)

Or maybe you just have to be a better writer than I am. You see, I tried this myself a couple of years ago, and never heard back – for good or ill – from anyone. I had forgotten the old maxim that a writer’s family and close friends are not necessarily his/her audience.

So if you enjoy sitting by the tree on Christmas morn and hearing loved ones exclaim, “Oh wonderful! It’s just what I wanted!” then you’re best off getting them just what they want. Or at least something that makes that coveted response a little easier to affect. … Like socks.

That being said, if you have received such a gift from a creative giver this Christmas, read it soon, for crying in the dirt. Then give them a call. Writing is a labor of love and it’s hard to do; at least as hard as shopping.