Let’s start with this: I received the first physical copy of my first book of poetry, Big Medicine Comes to Erie, just a day or so ago. And I’m still not entirely sure that the entire whiplash of actually having a published book available to the world has fully sunk in. Mainly, this should be attributed to the fact that point from which I started from in terms of the work for this collection stretches a long way back for me. We’re talking years, and as any other poets out there with full published books will know, that comes at no surprise. From the outside it comes as no surprise. But looking back and considering the entire process and the little bits of me that have fallen into this book of poems, this carries something of weight to it all.
By weight, I hardly mean anything in the negative sense, but rather that this all means something or should mean something. True, it’s an accomplishment to say the least. I managed to find a publisher in Black Moss Press that believes enough in the work I’ve been very actively engaged with since leaving graduate school. This after being generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts to take the time to build and then refine this collection. All of this comes as something very refreshing after spending so much energy and time into building something I’ve actually not once second guess writing. It’s funny how all that looks writing this, that this was simply something I had to do. Now that it’s done and this physical book is before me, I’m left considering the weight of this. It’s comforting at some level. But also begs more questions.
How much of writing this book transformed me? How much of the work here is still the essence of who I was when I wrote it? How well will it be received? It ways could it be used to define me? Is there too much of me in there? Is there too little of me in there? No answers, just questions. But there are also things much more certain to hold onto.
I already somewhat know what is next. The benefit of more grants and flexible work schedule as being my own boss, means that I still have two major books projects that I’m chipping away at. Which means another poetry collection (Devil in the Woods) and a historical novel (Waters that Divide) are in the works and I’ll have to start the whole process all over again. This is the part of the process I’ve gotten most comfortable with. The work itself is easy, it’s the thing I do when I get up, it’s the thing I do to get to the end of the project. Now it’s a learning curve again, what do now that I have this physical thing called my book.
So standing here at the finish line for this work, well in terms of writing anyways (there is still the marketing and reading to follow), what exactly does it all amount to? I suppose as much as one wants or needs it be. But the one thing to say for certain is that it took many of folks along the way to believe in and support my work and development as a poet and writer. This weight surely is tied to the thankfulness that I feel for all of those individuals along the way. But in the short term, I think I’ll just lean back a little and enjoy this moment of triumph that every writer dreams of, holding their own book just before seeing it go out into the world.
Big Medicine Comes to Erie (Black Moss Press) will be released in October 2016. Orders will be available from this site using Paypal and also via Black Moss Press and many Canadian booksellers.