Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some Stuff; then, later, Some Things; and then Some More Stuff

Spring is here! Last night was just about a perfect night. And it's raining today and it's going to be in the 50s tonight. Dogwoods are finally blooming. I love Bloomington, like this especially, when the Showers Building over the course of just a couple of weeks hosts Tea Bag Parties, the farmers' market, Luna Fest, and now (well, when the sun is out) the front lawn is one of he hawtest co-ed sunbathing spots in town. I love my provincial little liberal oasis.


Are we still trying to figure out whether or not torture is a good idea? Or "enhanced interrogation tactics" or whatever? Really?? How old are we? What year is this? Does ANYbody, other than Dick Cheny, think torture is a good idea? Christ.


Swine flu. Again, I say, really? Hmm. Well after taking a few deep (and likely diseased) breaths, I went to the CDC website and read that

Every year in the United States, on average:
* 5% to 20% of the population gets the [regular, plain-ol' seasonal] flu;
* more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
* about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

So forgive me if I don't rush right out and but some medical masks and duct tape. I understand this is a hybrid strain and that it's spreading with unexpected rapidity. But think about it: people fly all over the world all the time. The flu being spread this way simply does not alarm me. And I appreciate the CDC ramping up the emergency status of their reaction.

But I'm gonna stick with being calm and washing my hands, for the time being. Do let me know when I need to climb inside a hermetically sealed bubble, though.


My chapbook manuscript Little Glove in a Big Hand did not win the Plan B Press chapbook contest, BUT they loved it and have asked me to keep in touch with them this summer. Call it "Editor's Choice"? If I don't win a contest/find a publisher by August, they want to talk with me about bringing it out in the fall.

That feels really good. This project is very close to me, personally. Steven M.'s positive feedback was very heartening. He "got" it, and that has been one of my fears about the book: that it's too personal. Glad to be proven wrong.

I'm still waiting to hear back from about 10 other contests, and I intend to enter a few more before the end of May. But the note from Plan B was really invigorating, and, while I haven't signed on any dotted lines yet, it feels very good to "have a publisher" for my little chap.


Some conclusions on editing, by Gardner Botsford, editor at The New Yorker magazine for almost 40 years:

Rule of thumb No. 1. To be any good at all, a piece of writing requires the investment of a specific amount of time, either by the writer or by the editor. [Joseph] Wechsberg was fast; hence, his editors had to be up all night. Joseph Mitchell took forever to write a piece, but when he turned [it] in, the editing could be done during one cup of coffee.

Rule of thumb No. 2. The less competent the writer, the louder his protests over the editing. The best editing, he feels, is no editing. He does not stop to reflect that such a program would be welcomed by the editor, too, allowing him to lead a richer, fuller life and see more of his children. But he would not be long on the payroll, and neither would the writer. Good writers lean on editors; they would not think of publishing something that no editor had read. Bad writers talk about the inviolable rhythm of their prose.

Rule of thumb No. 3. You can identify a bad writer before you have seen a word of his copy if he uses the expression "we writers."

Rule of thumb No. 4. In editing, the first reading of a manuscript is the all-important one. On the second reading, the swampy passages that you noticed in the first reading will seem firmer and less draggy, and on the fourth or fifth reading, they will seem exactly right. That's because you are now attuned to the writer, not to the reader. But the reader, who will read the thing only once, will find it just as swampy and boring as you did the first time around. In short, if something strikes you as wrong on first reading, it is wrong, and a fix is needed, not a second reading.

Rule of thumb No. 5. One must never forget that writing and editing are entirely different arts, or crafts. Good editing has saved bad writing more often than bad editing has harmed good writing. This is because a bad editor will not keep his job for long, but a bad writer can, and will, go on forever. Good editing can turn a gumbo of a piece into a tolerable example of good reporting, not of good writing. Good writing exists beyond the ministrations of any editor. That's why a good editor is a mechanic, or craftsman, while a good writer is an artist.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Outsider Writers Collective

I am currently the featured poet at Outsider Writers Collective, a group loosely based in southern Indiana. Check it!

Thanks to Crystal Folz for hooking me up with OWC. I met Crystal at the Reservoir Dogwoods reading in Evansville in March. She is a fine poet in her own right, and very enthusiastic about promoting other people's work (me too!). I also like her small press, DIY aesthetic. Plus she is extremely prolific.

She also manages Shoots and Vines and has a personal site.

(And I later learned she skates with the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana. Small world, eh?)

Up! Date!

The tour is going swimmingly. We're just about halfway through and really locking in with each other. I am blessed to be a part of this. The other guys are really amazing.

I'm ridiculously busy at work and I'm trying to acquire as many projects as possible. I consider it job security. University presses and books in general have been "dying" since I got into this racket (circa 1996). And IU swears they are able to weather the current economic "downturn" (like a limp dick, right?). So I'm not too worried. Still, scary times. Fortunately, I am still diversifying my income streams.

To wit: still editing for an educational journal (8 years and going strong).

I just finished a freelance editing project for a local Internet marketing firm.

My teaching gigs are still going well (though one was canceled due to zero enrollment -- but that doesn't worry me too much, since I've taught a total of 3 people in that class the 2 times it has been offered. No word on whether they'll run it in the fall.)

I just learned that I WILL be doing live sound effects in Kentucky again this year. w00t! Initially the producers lost their funding, but they have stripped the show way down (2 plays, 4 performances total instead of 10 plays, 34 shows) and I'll only be down there a week and a half. Much more manageable all the way around. That is in August.

I find out in June if my Tom Lopp haibun hybrid project is funded. If so, I'll be in Eugene and Seattle for a week or so (2 if I can swing it), probably in September.

I called a derby bout in Grand Rapids. Got another one coming up on 4/25. Home season begins May 30.

I'm really glad I started off the year with a cruise. I'm not likely to get a vacation until Aug now, for which need to stockpile vacation time anyway.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009