Alright, so I’m finally a published poet!
Except I can’t say “finally” since this is the first time I’ve ever attempted to put myself out there. And I can’t use the term “published” in its traditional sense because it’s an online version of SLCC’s literary magazine (the internet isn’t exactly a prestigious place to have a presence). I’m not even sure “poet” fits. It carries too many stereotypes, most of which I don’t find particularly appealing. You know the ones I’m talking about: aloof, self-focused, temperamental, mood-disordered poets. Always lost in their own cavernous depths and finding profound meaning in things such as a plastic bag being swept across the freeway, at one instance suspended, slow-motion motionless, then violently yanked in the wake of speeding vehicles(…whoa). Most people can’t relate, and poets find the lack of understanding frustrating. Sometimes in an elitist sort of way.
I’m a little bummed that my piece didn’t make it into the print version. But it makes sense considering the editors crammed 60 different pieces of writing/art into only 90 pages. Had mine been selected it would have taken up at least, oh, 10-12 of those 5″x8″ 14pt font pages. They probably didn’t print it due to limited real estate and a desire to represent as much diverse talent as possible. This is what I’m telling myself.
It was still exciting to go to the website (http://folioslcc.org/literature) and find my name on the list. The giddiness was short-lived, however, upon discovering the INCORRECTLY TRANSCRIBED LINE BREAKS! To most, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but when every word, nuance, punctuation, line break, and indent is meticulously and purposefully placed, I feel that to so misrepresent an original work, for anyone, not just myself, is just plain negligent. And this phenomenon was not isolated to my poem only, but reading through the printed version, all I could do is wince and scrunch my brow at the too-prevalent typos. Informal correspondence is one thing, but for this perfectionistically detail-obsessed English major, to see mistakes in a publication actually hurts.
One of my favorite quotes is from writer Oscar Wilde: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back again.” I love that because when I read it I think, “Dude, that’s exactly what I do! I’m not alone!” Knowing at how scrupulously and intentionally many writers include or exclude the tiniest bits of information, it’s all the more important to me that those details be retained with utmost care.
What’s funny about the line-breaks being messed up in my poem is that back in August, I wrote the following status on FB: “I think they had it right back when they used amply wide, long scrolls because if there is anything irksome in this world it is an untimely line-break.” Yup. The difference between words being on the same line or a flow of thought staying on the same page and being separated is huge to me. To have that disrupted is akin to being misread, and that’s frustrating.
Okay, so all of this grumbling about line-breaks and representing work perfectly and being understood isn’t helping me stay out of that “poet” stereotype. It also makes me sound ungrateful for the hours upon hours of work that went into putting this edition of Folio together. I should be more mindful of the overwhelming flood of entries and the amount of deliberation it took to pare down and organize. (The fact that what I wrote made it past the judges is something to be happy about in itself.) The control-freak in me just wishes it could be a part of that process.
Further, this experience is helping me think more about what I might want to do when I grow up (grow up! HA!). With my eye for detail and ability to rearrange, include, exclude, expand, and condense for concise coherence, I think I would make a fastidious, and therefore excellent, editor.
“What do you do, Nichole?”
“I’m an editor.”
I like the sound of that.
This page’s banner is original artwork by Brian Bo, found as the feature image of http://folioslcc.org/.