After the happiness that came with an email from Gareth Lewis telling me that tall-lighthouse would like to publish my pamphlet (which I mentioned here) there was a time of staring. Staring at my computer screen (sometimes on, sometimes off), at my hands, at the wall, out of the window, at a sea of printed out pages of poems, calm and flat on my stripey rug. There was much tea drinking and some toast eating. There was staring at tea and toast. There was scrambling around on the floor ordering the poems. And reading aloud. Then, backache, while I sat at my computer pasting 24 poems into one word document. An attempt to make up a title (still working on this) and an email to Gareth Lewis attaching the manuscript of poems. A few glasses of wine.
Then, dread that the poems are rubbish, that I didn’t send enough, that I sent too many.
Then, Life. Buying food, cooking it, feeding family, clearing away. Repeat. Likewise, cleaning, washing clothes, driving to work, emailing, texting, telephoning, being on the internet, reading with people who have dementia (this is my part-time job and I wrote about it here). Meetings. Being on trains, falling asleep in the passenger seat of our family car. Swimming in the sea (once).
Then, the thought that he’s changed his mind about publishing me. I haven’t heard from him because he’s made a mistake and he’s trying to find a kind way of telling me. He’s not contacting me so that in the end I will get the message.
I carry around pages and pages of unfinished poems that will be better than the ones I’ve already sent him. I stand in a room that I used to call my children’s playroom that I’ve now organised as a kind of second sitting room and study, and I can’t move for piles of paper and books. And washing. And jigsaw puzzles that haven’t made a picture for years. Letters from my children’s school. Piles of ironing.
At work, with my family, baking a cake for my daughter’s birthday, I’m re-arranging the order of my poems in my head, and trying out titles and re-writing another poem and another and wondering why he hasn’t contacted me.
I email him: “Just wondering…..” and he emails back “Will be in touch soon. And most poets imagine they have far more space than is actually available in an A5 pamphlet.” I think I’ve sent too many poems. I think I have enough poems.
A few glasses of wine.
I print out the poems again and re-read notes about them from kind friends who’ve read the draft manuscript. I kiss my husband. I kiss my kids. I have four years worth of writing – eight years if I count the four years it took to write my first decent poem which had started out as a short story (I wrote about this here). I have put in some hours. He hasn’t changed his mind. I will think of a title. My pamphlet is still forthcoming.