It’s a challenge to balance the art of writing/drawing with the sharing of it. Creation versus promotion. I think I’m not alone in this effort to strike a harmonious accord between these two aspects of an artist/writer’s life.
A few weeks back, I sat down to write about upcoming readings and other cool writerly business, this kind of stuff:
Readings in Oregon:
Literary Cures for Fascism Fatigue: A Variety Show!
Monday, March 25, at 7:30
KALA, 1017 Marine Drive, Astoria
press release by Alyssa Graybeal
Readings, Book Signings and Tabling at AWP 2019 in Portland:
Reading from By the Forces of Gravity
C124, Oregon Convention Center
Writing Into the Silences: A Reading of Recent Creative Nonfiction. (LaTanya McQueen, Randon Billings Noble, Grace Talusan, Rebecca Fish Ewan, Melissa Grunow) Authors whose work is widely and wildly diverse will read from and discuss their recently published creative nonfiction. All include an uncovering of the hidden or lost, but the contents range from a Filipino American experience; different kinds of hauntedness; the search for an ancestor, once a slave, whose life became a prism of the author’s own experience; the intersection of disability, queerness and desire; and a story about a 1970s kid’s commune told through drawings and free verse.
Signings at the Hippocampus Table 9092: I’ll be signing and doodling in By the Forces of Gravity!
March 28 1:30-3:00
March 29 3:00-4:00
Tabling at the Wayward/Unchaste Writers Table T2060: Books, chapbooks, zines and other merch by a collective of writers. I’ll have my new chapbook, Water Marks, and some Tiny Joys zines on the table.
Poem in an Australian literary journal: My poem Boy Shoes was accepted in Not Very Quiet, a literary journal dedicated to poetry by women, for the issue focused on performing gender. It’ll release this month.
New Book Review Gig: I’ll be writing book reviews for Split Rock Review, a place-based literary journal. Psyched to be on the masthead. Look for my first review this summer!
Book Review of Droodles in Hippocampus. This book is a compendium of work by Roger Price, specifically his drawing doodles, he called Droodles.
New post for my Books with Pictures column: Four micro-reviews of books released in 2018
All awesome happenings. All fill me with excitement and joy. But three weeks ago, I was feeling ruminant about my ability to walk without pain, and instead of sharing upcoming events and publications, I wrote a flash essay about March, the word, the month, the movement, the hare. I want to share it, because this is what is in a writer’s head while they’re working on their platform.
Here is what I wrote:
March, as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, offers a panoply of meanings. To walk with intent, just one of them. The phrase “I’m mad as a March hare” paired the word with madness ages before college basketball was invented. March is also a long journey for animals, a toilsome walk for humans and a kind of wild celery. The meaning that delights me most is how march, usually in the plural marches, describes a track of debatable land. Perhaps derived from the old practice of walking around one’s property, marking its edges in order to claim all that your path of feet circumscribed, the marches became that fuzzy edge of the known.
I feel as though I’ve lived my whole life in this kind of place of betweeness.
I’m ruminating over this in an effort to anchor myself someplace, a habit of mine when I feel untethered. Today I’m watching cold rain drizzle from a gray sky. Today my bones ache as they grow coral-like around the metal that surgeons placed in my body just over three weeks ago. March is thought to derive from the Gaul term for hammer, the tool these surgeons used to pound a metal stake into my femur. My new hip joint has become the marches, the fuzzy boundary between the land of then and now. I’m learning how to march with it.
Marching connotes progress, a relentless movement ever forward, gaze locked on the beyond, thoughts intent on tomorrow. People march into battle or march in protest. Either way, their movement requires opposition. Marching implies the promise of victory. Or defeat.
Instinct warns me to shut my trap about the potentiality of any physical weakness. I can’t stop thinking about how lions survey herds on the march, their cat eyes searching for the lame, their bodies tense for a pounce. To avoid being devoured, I should pretend all is well. And it eventually may well be, but in this moment, it hurts to walk, to put on my left sock, to pretend.
I sat down to write of things to come, my trip to AWP in Portland, reading from By the Forces of Gravity, at the conference and in Astoria. Tabling with my new chapbook, signing my book. I planned to post links to recent publications. To work on my platform. Instead, I flitter back and forth between the long view and my own minutia. I watch the clouds darken the sky, squint through a magnifying glass into the tiny dictionary text, my retreat into the origins of words.
Maybe some days aren’t meant for marching forward. Maybe some days are for walking like a camel, as Thoreau recommends, camels being the “only beast which ruminates when walking.” Don’t think about this advice for too long or you’ll begin to wonder about cows, how they also ruminate when walking. People so often bring camels into essays for the element of surprise. Cows are an entirely different literary device. More plodding.
Let me ponder this last point while the day marches away.