Monday, November 26, 2007

It will remain quiet here

...until I meet a couple big deadlines. It's cold outside, so I'm quite content to sit here and plunk away. Things should be back to normal in a few weeks.

A couple books arrived in the mail today. The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture by Tim Bowling and
Acquainted with the Night by Christopher Dewdney. Word of mouth led me to these books. I hope to dig into them sometime in December.

For the past week I've been ending my days with John Metcalf's literary memoir Shut Up He Explained. I'm struck by Metcalf's passion for the short story. It's compelling, especially in light of the list of cumulative sales figures for books by Porcupine's Quill authors on page 130. How sobering. Those numbers have been haunting me as I write. As I edit. I thought about them yesterday when I was chatting with a writer about chapbooks. I've been wondering which press would be a good fit for a particular sequence of poems and what my priorities are when it comes to chapbooks. I'm very tempted to just publish the sequence online. I love stumbling upon new-to-me work, The Middle Stories by Sheila Heti being a good, high profile example. Granted, hers is already published work, but I like the idea of just getting the work out there. I like the idea of cumulative hits.

11 comments:

pohanginapete said...

Good luck with the deadlines, Brenda. And, congratulations on actually receiving your books in the mail. Amazon seems to have lost my large order of over a month ago. They can't even find the tracking information, despite having sent me an email with the tracking number when they shipped it. Grrrr.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks Pete! I'm pretty excited about it all, so there's lots of energy driving me. :)

Bummer about your book order. I hope they show up soon.

sms said...

I saw Tim at the Vancouver International Writers Fest and it was great hearing him read. He said that releasing a non-fiction prose book was quite a wonderful, refreshing change from poetry. He was gratified at the response from John Q Public (my words).

As for the idea of posting your work. I think this is an interesting idea. While I love to hold the artifact that is known as a book, I actually love reading poetry online and am quite convinced that the future is there. What I wonder is if it wouldn't be possible to connect really good editors with poets before they go online just so that one knows the very best is actually going out to the world.

Then again, I know many who even after publication, are scratching out words and replacing them with new ones.

good luck with your work!

Brenda Schmidt said...

sms, it's good to hear the response has been positive. Considering the subject matter and the fact that he's a fabulous writer, it's not surprising.

Ya, I think online publishing has great upsides. Like you, I love the book and hope to continue being published in that form, but online publishing has a potential reach that a book does not. Longevity of the work is a whole other matter, but here I'm more concerned with getting new work out there prior to its life between covers. I haven't submitted to literary magazines in quite some time. I don't like all the paper involved. The cost. That's not to say I will never submit again, but right now I'd prefer to play around online and see what comes of it. For instance, I was thrilled to get a message from a poet out east who'd encountered my poems on Northern Poetry Review. The links on such online journals make that kind of communication possible. I also plan to put work online that is not intended for print. H and I have been working on more video poems. Video sonnets, actually. There is something quite gratifying about watching the number of youtube views creep up.

Ya, editing is another thing. I'm lucky to know some top notch editors, so I'll continue to turn to them. And I'm one of those who does not feel married to any version of a poem, so changes will likely be ongoing.

Thanks for the wishes!

Anonymous said...

I've been doing a lot of thinking about online publishing since reading your comments. As with music, the internet is an incredible distribution system for niche-community. There may be a few "solutions" to the paper-based conundrum (distribution/sales) and that would be a "publisher's" hub e.g. online journals/reviews... or maybe YouTube'd readings/podcasts etc...

It's early days yet. A time of great opportunity for artists everywhere... and for multi-media (and there are so many of us who create in multiple disciplines).

Brenda Schmidt said...

True, it is the early days. And it's exciting.

A few more things I should add. Looking back at my last comment, "I don't like all the paper involved. The cost" suggests that it's a green issue, and it is, but that's not where my head was at when I wrote that. Even a quick look at this blog gives ample evidence of the tech trap I've willingly walked into, and we all know this stuff ain't exactly green. I should also point out that I do subscribe to print-based literary journals, The New Quarterly easily my favourite, and I'm aware of the issues these journals have with email submissions. It's the numbers I find frustrating. Puzzling. For instance, when I read in this post the number of subscribers that CNQ currently has, my jaw dropped. A serious case of mixed feelings followed. In a country of 35 million, how can I possibly locate one of the 400 people who have the magazine and go on to have a lively discussion about Robyn Sarah's piece on publishing (too much) poetry? It isn't likely to happen. And a big part of me thinks it's a damn shame as there is plenty of meat in CNQ that should really be chewed around. It's a fabulous critical journal. Then again, how many readers is enough? I'd like to think a good number of those readers are engaging in just those kinds of discussions. I'd like to think others are listening and will soon join in. I'm serious. Actually, over the past couple days I've been having a rather satisfying exchange with another writer about an aspect of Don McKay's poetry. I've been pulling out books, sending off quotes and finding new things as I revisit the texts, none of which are online. CNQ has been part of other conversations and I'm sure I'll find myself quoting from it again. So in the end I can't really justify my comment on the paper and the cost. I simply have no way of measuring the non-monetary cost to us if these things weren't published and at hand.

sms said...

an interesting thing you wrote, was that you are "pulling out texts... none of them online", for your discussions on MacKay's poetry... I think it's only a matter of time and/or a generational thing before the "new" format will be accepted not as a poor second best, but will be seen as a full-partner or lead in publishing.

Also, the technology will improve to the point where it may even be possible for the "delivery system" i.e. the computer or whatever one wants to call it, to have the feel and look of a traditional book, or possibly even better (although that's hard to imagine!).

I think all of this is extremely healthy, as with music in that there is a direct relationship between the artist and the "consumer" (that's a difficult word choice) and a greater possibility of exchange between the two.

Finally, thinking about the dismal number of people who subscribe to the journal you mentioned... if I look at that critically, I have to ask what aspect of that equation is lacking.... format, distribution, or dare I say, content? I'd have to predict that it's a function of all three, and again, I think that journals might have to be more creative with their concepts of delivery, perhaps less self-referencing (this is only a guess as I've not read the journal) and more open with online access.

I like your attitude to online... I think it would be great to have virtual concourse sfor writers, editors, artists (e.g. who want to collaborate on chapbooks and projects), dancers... I suppose they must exist already

Brenda Schmidt said...

Ya, there's lots of exciting things going on and so much potential. It's great to hear your take on it.

I urge you to pick up a copy of CNQ. It has a new publisher, some new editors and several new writers. I'd like to hear what you think.

sms said...

I perused the CNQ and indeed it looks interesting, but I am having a weird reaction to reviews/criticism lately (and I have been a lifelong consumer and have been the recipient of good reviews so that's not where this is coming from)... I know this might be bizarre... but do you think poets are really the best people to be reviewing poets? novelists, novelists?

I really enjoy it when a subject expert reviews a book... e.g. an Inui person reviewing Kevin Patterson's, Consumption, would be really interesting... maybe get a geologist to review a book of poetry with rock/stone at its heart...

on another topic, I love memoirs and collected letters even more so... they are a different kind of fiction!

sms said...

one other thing... I just read "adventures in the reviewing trade"... great! I love essays. When I get stuck I reread orwell's... anyway, I think Alex Good has a lot of interesting things to say and his insights/observations about the cosiness of CanLit...

it just came to me as I was reading the essay, and this seems stunningly obvious I'm sure, but I think what's lacking in so many reviews I read now is good writing... yikes! I hate reviews that begin with sentences such as, "When I was at Oxford" blah blah blah and then the reviewer finally gets around to reviewing the book in the last third of the piece, and the whole darn thing is so bloody boring... so maybe that guy was right who said reviews are "entertainment"... hmmmm

oh, and I forgot to add in my previous posting that I have written a fair number of reviews myself - though not critical analyses - for magazines and newspapers (not journals) - and am the proud recipient of hate mail for a review I did of a gardening book...this remains one of my prouder achievements...

Brenda Schmidt said...

I'm too much of a coward to write reviews. If I received hate mail, I'd likely hide under my bed for my remaining days. :)