Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day the first: an orientation.

It begins, the beginning of the academic year, in the middle of a week which already feels long. To wit:

  • Sunday, when we drove home from Idaho. Does this count? Didn't we go to Idaho for the fun of it? Does driving home on a Sunday count, legitimately, as a part of a long week? I'm not saying I'm being a grownup about it, okay? I'm saying that driving home from a vacation, just like flying home across the Atlantic and practically a whole continent after spending a blissful nine days in Scotland, is the worst, and it categorically inaugurates everything that comes after it as 'long.' 
  • Whew, so much whining after a vacation!
  • Monday: meeting meeting meeting. Meeting! Even with friends: meeting x 4 = math, which is the worst.
  • Tuesday: MEE E E E e e e ting. So much meeting.
  • Wednesday: the first day. After which come Thursday and Friday, with their iffy qualities and also: more meetings.

allow me to illustrate.
Well, just so you know that my whining game is legit. Because it is LEGIT.

I had a good writing summer. June and July, I wrote a poem or revised a poem every day. Adding that to the poems I wrote in April (the cruelest month), I have about 90 poems happening. Add to that: my current manuscript was a finalist twice and a semifinalist once in national book competitions. And now summer is over, and said manuscript is done being a finalist, which, no matter how many pep talks you give yourself, or how many times you remind yourself of encouraging things that your writer friends have said, you have to pick yourself up from it, frankly. It feels a little bit like failure.

This helps.  To wit:
And indeed, when I came to the U.S. to become a poet, and when my first book was rejected by the first three publishers I sent it to – FC2, Coffee House, and Wesleyan University Press, as I recall – I was undaunted.  And when my third book took nine years, over 20 revisions and 4 cycles of rejections before it came out, I never thought that this was wrong. It’s not that I thought that my writing was so great and that all I needed was to keep putting it out there until I’d reach the occult threshold of the 76th attempt, but rather, that I came to believe in duration. How a narrative becomes itself in time. How cycles of dormancy and expression are weirdly nutritive. How failure itself becomes a site of possibility: an aperture for chance; for the conditions of the work to arrive in a different time to the one in which it was begun. I learned to continue, to keep moving forward, to keep writing, whether the outcome of that writing was visible – perceptible – or not. I learned how to re-write my work with as much passion and joy and curiosity as I had given to the writing of it. I even invented a chant: Re-writing is writing. Writing is re-writing.

Yep: "cycles of dormancy and expression are weirdly nutritive....failure itself becomes a site of possibility: an aperture for chance; for the conditions of the work to arrive in a different time to the one in which it was begun."

I hope you noticed that I linked to Bhanu Kapi's commencement address. I block-quoted from it. And then I quoted from the block quote. I'm trying to reorient myself. Not a bad thing for a person to do at the beginning of the semester.

In other news, there are practically no vegetables in my house. Not to mention not much of anything else, what with all our travel travel travel (and the subsequent meeting meeting meeting). So once I conclude this orientation session--orienting you to my new semester, since no students showed up for this actual orientation session IRL--I am going to work out, and then buy some broccoli.

It's going to be great. Everything--the writing, the nutritive failure, the semester, the workout, the broccoli. Maybe especially the broccoli though, which is itself super-nutritive.

1 comment:

Ann said...

So yeah. You're my hero. And it's almost your birthday. This must be celebrated.

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