Saturday, May 03, 2008

The waters are rising, the puns are endless

I'm editing qarrtsiluni for two months.

'What do you do' asked Tom, 'if you get poems from people who are way over and above you in intellect and ability?'

In fact this is not so much a possibility as a racing cert. The submissions are flooding in, and almost every one of them seems to be from someone who has been teaching creative writing for a living in a prestigious institution for years, has had several books published, has one prizes and plaudits and awards and nominations and laurel crowns from here, there and everywhere. The way things are going we'll have to select perhaps 10 to 15% for publication, and 99.9% of them are bloody good. The rest are just good.

It didn't help of course that we blithely chose a theme as general and universally popular as 'Water'. Yes, just 'Water'. Had we chosen something cryptic or obscure, everyone would have had to think a bit before coming up with anything, but everyone's done something on water, and they all want to share them. Dammit, every other thing I say or think seems to contain some form of metaphorical reference to water...
But I am not alone. In this task worthy of the Danaides I have been assigned as companion the utterly adorable, enthusiatic, great of heart and of talent Katherine, who is up there with the folks I'm dealing with. And I know I can do it because she believes in me, as Dave and Beth, the permanent editors, must do, who put me up to it. And I want to do it, because I want the experience and I'd be wimping out if I didn't.

Regarding Tom's question.I was somewhat heartened to read this interview with Martin Lammon, whose work I don't know, but who seems to be one of the most driven perfectionists and compulsive revisers of his own work. He says that these days he often shows his work first not to his seasoned old poetical cronies, whose reactions have become a little predictable. but to younger and/or less experienced writers, whose honesty and freshness of response he feels he can better trust. Hopefully, hard work and a little humility, the real kind, not the false, self-denigrating, little me, easily over-awed stuff, will go along way.

However, I think I can only do it if I put most of my other activities here on hold for a bit and give it huge amounts of time and concentration. So regrettably, not only will I probably not find a lot of time to blog, but worse, I can't see myself getting round to everyone else's for a while. I've just looked at my feeds and nearly all of them have gone black already, which makes me whimper with anxiety, especially about those of you who've been having babies and operations and weddings and all manner of other life-changing events. I'll do my best when/if I feel more on top of the qarrtsiluni situation, but till then, please excuse my absence. I'll try to keep up Out with Mol, as I think it's important to my routine and to make the effort to go on observing things outside what's going on in my head.

Come the end of June, I can look forward to the rest of the summer lazing in the shade of the Box Elder tree, posting pretty pictures and writing what I choose, and visiting all my blogging mates and enjoying what they do without any need to judge it and make invidious choices.

So feel free to join the fun, come one come all and the more the merrier, and have a look a look at the call for submissions. Perhaps if any of my dearest friends send stuff in, I might refer it to Katherine for judgement, spineless wuss that I am. Being accepted would put you in some very fine company, being passed over in perhaps even better...
Anyway, on the subject of water, soothing to my anxiety was about three hours on the beaches and cliffs with dear Gillian and Barley (aka, Rosie and Porridge the illustrious and fantabulous Bitches about Brittany). Gill, who really has joint honours in scathing wit and self-deprecating no-shit irony, recommended shallow flippancy as an antidote to earnest literary angst, but it's really to late for that. About 46 years too late for me.

Anyway, as you can see, she's got a really cool camera and she's not afraid to use it, so I daresay there'll be some sumptuous shots over at hers. I rather thought I didn't take much in the way of photos when out and about with other people, so I only had cheapcam with me.

However, I'd never been out with another blogger in the presence of rockpools, and we soon both became very absorbed, much to the unappreciative puzzlement of our pooches, who didn't see the point.

Barley walked on this stranded jellyfish, then Molly had a go - no they didn't get stung, Mol didn't really touch it. I don't know whether that improved the compositional arrangement or not.

Indeed, so absorbed were we that we failed to notice the tide coming in; I was irritably trying to remove pieces of waving sea lettuce from above an interesting anemone, when I became aware that as fast as I tried to push it out of the way, more of it, accompanied by volumes of seawater, was rushing in. Molly and I made a big jump, Gill and Barley a big wade. Still at least I didn't lose my trousers, wallet, ID card and ten euros. (Family joke, I won't identify the person to whom this happened to avoid humiliating my male sibling.)

The dogs were really very well-behaved and patient; Barley only tried to bowl Molly over once at the beginning and didn't do it to any people except us, and Mol only growled at Barley twice. Barley ended the occasion by running off and rolling in nicely fermented cow slurry, but that was just before we got into our separate vehicles and went our separate ways, so I was prepared to overlook it.


Finally, my lovely sister-in-law ( not to be confused with my lovely sister; my range of epithets is not great and they are indeed both just lovely), who tells me she reads this on the quiet, sent me these pictures of a white peacock, because they reminded her of the dandelion clock in the last post. I don't know who took them, but I thought they were too beautiful to keep to myself. I feel uncommonly blessed that there are people in my life who think of me, read my blog and send me picture's of white peacocks.


So now I shall print off a mountain of qarrtsiluni submissions in order to take them outside in the balmy spring weather and peruse them there, using scrap paper from work but while Tom's not paying attention enough to upbraid me for using too much ink. One still reads more attentively from paper, I believe, than spending too much time at the screen.

Thanks for bearing with me, and I'll see you all as soon as I can.


QP said...

Robinstarfish introduced me to your blog months ago, and I have been a silent admirer 'til now. I trust your task with qarrtsiluni will be blessed by heaven. During your sabbatical, I will wade in the refreshing pools of your previous offerings here and look forward to your return.

vicki johnson said...

Hey, Lucy....don't forget to have fun with this honor/job of editing...i firmly believe that every editor ends up going with their "gut feeling" in the end...and your intuition is totally reliable.

i know that there will be delicious agonizing over the choices...and perhaps some not so gracious responses (i'm sure Marly felt i was less than mature in the way i handled rejection)...but trust your have a good head and a great heart.

Zhoen said...

I shall not add to your burden.


julie said...

You'll certainly be missed, Lucy, but we'll most likely still be here when you return. And thanks for this lovely post, until then!

I'm sure that your editing job, challenging as it will be, will work out splendidly.

Anonymous said...

Martin Lammon is right. Beth and I value the prerspectives of the various professional, MFA'd writers who have edited for us, but I think we also recognize that they are no more expert in the business of poetry- and art-appreciation than any other reasonably well educated, open-minded person. Also, poetry is not the whole of what we do; photography is an increasingly important part, and you certainly have an eye for good photos and good art. But as Zephyr says, the most important thing is to have fun!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post as always, and a note of admiration and appreciation for taking on this huge task. I'm sure you are extremely capable and will do a fantastic job! Enjoy! (Though I will miss your regular posts and faithful comments!)

Anonymous said...

Gosh yes that is like a dandelion clock. Beautiful.

I will miss your posts of course and also your comments on my blog, but you must get on with what you need to do. Blogging and bloggers will still be here when you come back. Blogging is great like that - you need never feel obliged - it's something you do as and when you want and people accept that without hesitation and welcome you back when you return.

Take care.

jzr said...

Oh, what a job! Have lots of fun!

Rosie said...

what about deep flippancy, is that easier?

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

qp - welcome. Robin is a dear and valued friend and visitor here, as I'm sure you will be. My absence will only be temporary and intermittent.

Zephyr - thank you for reminding me, and don't be too hard on yourself, I don't have the impression that Marly hasn't forgiven you, and a disappointment is a disappointment. But rejection is a heavy word which I think really gives too much importance to the matter. And I think you're right about the intuition, seeing how good many of the contributions are, I realise much of our judgemnet will have to be based on what will make for what we see as a rounded, varied, well-balanced issue, not simply trying to judge each piece on its comparitive merits, where you're often comparing apples and oranges anyway, and which is largely subjective. And we won't necessarily 'get it right' every time.

Zhoen - I can't imagine you would ever be a burden, but thanks, and I'll try!

Julie - thanks, I'll miss you too!

Dave - yep, and thanks for having faith! (Sorry, what's MFA'd? I'm shamefully ignorant...)

ML - thanks, I really will try to get round when I can.

RB - indeed. I suppose one of the anxieties about blogging is that somehow you have to be keeping up all the time or you'll no longer be loved. It won't do me any harm to step back from this a bit, and I think I'll appreciate it more when I return.

JZR - Thank you, take care!

Rosie - Hmm, I think deep flippancy might be what you really do... perhaps shallow earnestness is more my strength! ;~)

vicki johnson said...

Hey Lucy...i didn't mean to leave the wrong impression. Marly and i are cool...i was simply referring to the fact that when i got her notice via email, i was too flip in my reply...but all's well. Whatever terminology we use for "included and not included"'s always hard--on both ends, particularly with big hearted folks like you and Marly and the others (though i don't know them, like i do you and Marly).

Anonymous said...

Sorry. MFA = Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. A requirement for most poetry teaching jobs in the U.S., and increasingly a prerequisite for publication in major journals, as well.

Beth said...

Humility is an underrated virtue - one I wish more editors possessed! You'll do wonderfully.

As for myself, I am wishing so much that I could go rock-pooling with you!

Lucy said...

Zephyr - flippancy sure beats sulking!

Dave - thanks for enlightenment. I don't know if such a thing even exists this side of the pond, certainly didn't in my day. Creative writing courses at all at university are still relatively rare, I think, and considered somewhat suspect!

Beth - I pride myself on my humility! Indeed, I have much to be humble about...
You are welcome to come rockpooling any time!

apprentice said...

Good luck! Love the peacock, it is so like a dandelion clock and the close up makes me think of viole.

Bee said...

So much to respond to, and I'm a little tongue-tied by the fab white peacock . . .

The poetry-vetting task sounds a bit daunting, but I've no doubt you are equal to the task. It sounds like an honor!

I'm just glad that I can continue to check in with you on the Mol-walking site.

Anonymous said...

As a beneficiary of your Normandy days, I thank you for the acceptance of my poem for the WATER issue.