On Monday afternoon, I had settled in for a long afternoon at the office. I often toggle between multiple windows and various computer platforms. I keep track of my work e-mail, and occasionally zip back to my personal e-mail accounts, just in case an important e-mail finds its way there.
In the late afternoon, I noticed a curious subject line: "Chapbook Acceptance: I Stand Here Shredding Documents." At first, I thought it might be a hoax. Perhaps someone had been reading my blog and decided to offer to publish my manuscript if I would give them my bank account number. It's not your traditional hoax/fraud scheme, but I've been noticing an uptick in offers from other countries from people who can barely write in English, all of them offering great things if I'll just send them financial information.
I opened the e-mail to find out that it wasn't a hoax. In February, I entered the Finishing Line Press New Women's Voices Chapbook Contest; I sent them my manuscript I Stand Here Shredding Documents (also called my working woman chapbook, for those of you who have been following along for almost a year the progress of this book; I first wrote about the idea of this collection at the end of this post; I write about choosing the chapbook title here). I didn't win the contest, but they do want to publish my chapbook. Hurrah!
I was at work, so I couldn't dance around the house. I wanted to whoop, but I try to keep some decorum in the office. I did forward the e-mail to my spouse and then I called. I also went to the Finishing Line website, just to make sure the e-mail wasn't an elaborate hoax. The various e-mail addresses match. The tone of the e-mail and the tone of the website are similar.
I felt a wide variety of emotions throughout the rest of Monday. There was the incredible happiness; it's been a long time since my first chapbook's publication, and I had begun to wonder if I'd ever see a book-length publication again. There was the mix of fear and nausea: are the poems really ready, is the manuscript really ready? What if my boss and other higher ups read it and decide that I'm ungrateful and fire me? I tend to think I've been writing about modern life, especially the lives of working women in a broad, sociological sense, but people take offense at all sorts of things.
Then I had to laugh at the idea of everyone up the administrative chain reading my chapbook. I know from my own experience that many weeks, I don't read much more than my constant stream of e-mails--and I think that my superiors will have time for poetry? It's a lovely thought, but those days may be over forever, those days where we could linger around the coffee pot, discussing poetry and intellectual ideas and paintings. Maybe they never existed.
I also thought about how many journals have these individual poems under consideration. And now I need to write to those places to let them know what's happening. With my last chapbook, that didn't pose much of a problem. I also had a moment of sorrow for those poems which had never been published anywhere else. This chapbook could be the end of the publishing line for them. I'm also keenly aware of the fact that I could send those poems out to journals for the next 10 years, and they might never be published. So I'm grateful for this opportunity.
Finishing Line Press will want art for the cover, which spooked me for a few hours, and then I started thinking of all the possibilities. Likewise with blurbs . . . at first I felt afraid and unworthy, and then I re-read Kelli's blog post on blurbs and decided to try to be brave.
I sent e-mails and Facebook messages to a few writers whom I know from the blogosphere who have published chapbooks with Finishing Line Press (thanks Karen J. Weyant and John Guzlowski!). I wanted to know if they had any regrets about letting the press publish their chapbooks. I'm happy to say they did not. They offered me congratulations and support.
I began to send out e-mails to my friends and family. I worry sometimes, about sending those kind of e-mails. What if my friend is having a VERY BAD DAY, and my good news makes her feel even worse. But I also know from experience how cheering someone else's good news can be. I love knowing people who have actually won literary prizes, grants, publications--it means that regular people actually do accomplish these things. It's not just those well-connected few.
Then, on Tuesday, I found out that my blog postings for the national website were up, and I began to feel ridiculously lucky and blessed. It's been a great writing week.
In the coming weeks, I plan to blog about this process. I've always appreciated the efforts of others as they document the process of going from individual poem to manuscript of collected poem to book. And of course, once the book is available for pre-publication order, I'll be letting everyone know--the press run depends on how many chapbooks are ordered in the 6 week pre-publication ordering period.
I hope to remember to say this again and again during this process: thanks to everyone who has read these poems, voted on the title of the manuscript, talked about the wisdom of a collection of poems about the modern workplace and women, and been supportive. My life is enriched in many ways, and having a wide circle of "believing mirrors" (as Julia Cameron calls them) is one of the best life enhancers of all.
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