A Community of Writers, A Community of Books

2 Jul

Taken in my room at Bennington, Jan. 2007

 

 

I am almost finished with the writing of my second manuscript (the first, The Glass Crib, is due out from Zone 3 Press in September).  I’ve been working on it steadily since January 2010 and have about 41 pages that I feel good about.  I’ve been keeping this second manuscript — the actual focus of it — a secret for a multitude of reasons, but if you’ve read some of the poems from it in journals, I think you might have a inkling of what it’s about.

 

I’m both excited and dreading hopping back on the merry-go-round of book contests.  For those of you who have done it, it’s such an arduous, albeit hopeful, process.  My first book was a finalist/semi-finalist for 6 contests, which was both rewarding and frustrating (insert the “always the bride” cliche here).  It took me almost 2 years to write it and about 1 1/2 years of sending it out to find a suitable home (a home which I absolutely adore).  I have no idea what to expect this time, because each manuscript/reader/judge is so different.  Of course, we all want to our manuscripts to be selected straight out the gate, but that so rarely happens.  If this manuscript gets picked up in the same amount of time as my first, I’ll throw a party.  No joke.

 

After grad school, it has felt a times like I’m writing in a vacuum.  I’m out of the “bubble” of grad school (and for me, even undergrad — I had such an amazing time there and feel very lucky to have been able to get both a BA and MFA in Creative Writing & Literature and work with wonderful teachers at both).  The first year out of Bennington’s MFA program, I had no idea what to do with myself, especially as my writing community dwindled and dwindled as the people I knew and loved here in Houston graduated from Houston’s MFA/PhD program and moved away.

 

However, little by little, I’ve made the transition and now when I look around, I have my own community created not by being thrown together in classes and such, but out of true friendships and love of language and books and everything in between.  I like coming out of my little nest of books and paper and tea to talk to other writers and share new work, ideas, or new books we’ve just read.  I can’t think of anything worse than living like Emily Dickinson and if that means I’ll never be Emily Dickinson, than so be it.

 

Recently, I have swapped manuscripts with a poet-friend of mine and also have a handful of other writer-friends that have agreed to read over my manuscript for me.  I am in awe of how gracious they all are and that I do have such a community to turn to again and again.

 

*

 

 

I think that in addition to a “people” community, we as writers (and readers in general) also build a community of books.  At last count (last year, when my husband conceived the plans for building our built-in bookcases), there are over 800 books in this house.  I’m reading a hodgepodge of books right now: books for research for the manuscript, others for fun, others for cooking, others I’m re-reading for the zillionth time.  Here are a few I’m reading:

 

Trouble in Mind by Lucie Brock Broido

Nothing In Nature Is Private by Claudia Rankine

Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen

My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

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2 Responses to “A Community of Writers, A Community of Books”

  1. Katherine Reynolds July 2, 2011 at 2:50 AM #

    I love this idea. I fell ill and am out on extended leave from Lone Star College – Tomball and plan to retire in January of 2012, so I’m losing my much loved community because I will no longer (at the moment at least) meet writers through my classes. Teaching part time is not an option for me at this time. I feel like Emily. I miss the students and more importantly miss the instant community of writers one creates when teaching creative writing. So now I will be connecting via internet.

  2. Kamila July 5, 2011 at 2:13 PM #

    Does your community also include blocked-writers-in-recovery? 🙂

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