Thursday, February 25, 2010

So I've been experiencing the closest things to panic attacks I've had in years. Not sure why, exactly, except certain difficulties on the job, but nothing really worse or even as bad as usual. Frankly, it's been a nice week, and yet my flight response is in overdrive. More on that in a bit.

So my sister called the other day and told me a story. Her step-daughter works at a tractor supply store in Searcy, Arkansas. She and a customer started talking about poetry, like you do while browsing the new Case IH catalogue, and the customer mentioned that his wife loved the work of this poet who was from Arkansas but now lives in Maryland.

"My uncle is a poet from Arkansas who now lives in Maryland," my neice stated.
"Is his last name Bledsoe?" the guy asked. When my neice confirmed this, the guy said, "My wife loves his poetry."

Weird, huh? I told this story to Chris and he said, "Well, I mean that's your demographic."

So then yesterday I got an email from a publisher to whom I'd sent a short story collection. They want it. Jumping the gun, here, because I haven't even seen a contract, but still nice. Couple of longer stories (in the 20 page range) plus quite a few 10-15 page ones. No flash--didn't seem to fit. Tentatively titles NAMING THE ANIMALS. Mostly stories about troubled relationships with a stong animal theme. I'll just ignore any sexual implications in the previous sentence.

My reaction to both of these things was paranoia and fear.

The bottom line is that the ant-si-ness may well be coming from a lack of literary production. I do feel anxious when I don't write for a certain amount of time, have for years. Frankly, it can cause insomnia, which I think is the reason I was waking up so early for a couple month stretch there. I've actually been writing a bit, lately, but I've also been feeling that itch to do more. Hence putting together the short fiction manuscript in the first place. But it's very difficult to find time right now. We're in the middle of term finals. Grades are due Monday, and I have a stack of essays about an inch thick (hey, it was 2 inches yesterday) plus May Program stuff, getting geared up for next year, possibly switching over to do college counseling (a big maybe) next year, etc. I'm starting new novels in all my classes, etc. So I scribble when I can, but that's not good enough for my belly and my brain. This post, for example, was only possible because of a late start due to weather.

Still, there are chipmunks wrestling on the back wall and there's only one more week until Spring Break, so there's hope. For what, I'm not sure. But it squeaks.


Glenn Buttkus said...

I have been reading the works of Stephen Dunn, who among other things used to be a professional basketball player, and has won a Pulitzer prize for poetry, and makes a living by teaching--and I thought hey, it must create some kind of emotional Jeckyl and Hyde
personality in those poets, like yourself, who has published quite a lot, is well known and respected, who loves to write, and in a different world would do so full time; but for the time being has to "make a living" as a teacher. The old imp of cognitive dissonance, the rather passionate
emotions that stir up when, as you say, you suffer "under a lack of literary production". So many of us out here are wannebe writers, or closet poets, who somewhere were given a lot of positive feedback on our writing skills, or taught English, or were English or Drama majors, or are teachers of this or that--and we only write when the impulse is strong upon us, bathed in joy, anger, love, or alacrity. So we feel your pain, sir, and hope it finds an exit soon.

CLBledsoe said...

I enjoy Dunn's work. Of course, I complain about not having time to write even though I've wasted so much time in my life that I could've used to write...and there are children starving in Africa...