Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tale is officially available from Interstellar Flight Press.Â
I mean . . ., okay, technically, it’s been out in the world since September. I just haven’t got around to saying it until now.
You may as well as me, Why? Aren’t you excited?
And the answer is yes, I’m very excited. Yet, somehow I’m having a hard time sharing that excitement with people.
Maybe it’s just the general 2020 vibes and all the anxiety and weirdness that comes with it. I’m sure that’s at least a part of it â€” however, another part is some strange block I have about promoting and celebrating my own work.
Example One. Sitting around a campfire with my aunt, cousins, and sister, we were taking turns saying the things we felt most proud off this year. When it was my turn, I rattled off a few things (of which I don’t remember). When I finished, my sister was flabbergasted. “I thought you were going talk about your book coming out. How could you not talk about your book coming out?”
“Oh, yeaaaah,” I said. “Yes, yeah, of course, I’m super proud of that, too.”
Example Two. Shortly after my book came out, I was hanging out with my brother. He turns to me and says, “I’m really enjoying your book.”
“Oh, yeah, which one?” I ask, thinking he’s talking about one of the books I’d loaned him recently.
He gives me a funny look. “You know,Â your book.Â Twelve?”
“Oh, yeaaaah” I start laughing, finding myself embarrassed for forgetting I published a book. It’s out in the world. People are reading it.
2020 is indeed a strange year, rife with intense extremes of emotion. Sometimes I don’t know how to process those emotions or even how to move through my day, shifting from the living room to the dinning room to the bedroom as I push through the tasks of my day job and squeeze in space for the writing and work I’m passionate about.
I want to be excited about Twelve. I’m proud of my little collection of prose poems. I’m proud of the work I did.
I want to be better about celebrating my own work, about following through with the business of promoting it, and with sharing it with others who might fall in love with it.
To that end, I can say,Â Twelve is officially out. People have been buying it, and you can buy it, too.
If you need some further convincing, here are some recent, lovely reviews (for which I’m profoundly grateful):
“The power comes in the choosing,” Blythe writes. And Twelve is, at its core, a story of women choosing. Time and time again, the book gives them space to act on their innermost desires â€” and does not make them apologize for these radical, layered wants.Â â€” Erin Becker (Barrelhouse)
Iâ€™d like to say itâ€™s impossible to pick a favorite poem out of the dozen, but â€œThe Third Sister,â€ which speaks to the power and magic of literature, is quite appealing, and â€œThe Eleventh Sister,â€ which addresses the old woman in the forest from the original tale, stand out as particular favorites for me. But itâ€™s difficult to choose, and having been enchanted by these poems and having read this book half a dozen times already (yes, itâ€™s that good!), I find myself remembering particular images or narratives at various times, proving that each poem in this collection is striking and potent. â€” Joshua Gage (Cemetery Dance)
Each word of Blytheâ€™s chapbook is an ode to the girls and women who read them, reinventing each of their childhood facets: the dancers, the bookworms, the scientists, the rebels, the cooks and more. She brings the darkness of the Brothers Grimm with the hope and life of feminist readings we strive for today. â€” Abbie Johnson (Like an Open Book)
It would be easy to allow the tidal wave to push me over, catch me up in the swirling of its mundanely chaotic days. But at least I know there’s one good thing. I published a book this year. I can feel good about that.
The month of November is halfway over and NaNoWriMo is still ongoing. And here is another area where I’ve been struggling. In the first couple of days, I manages about 2,500 words, but since then,Â I’ve been having a hard time focusing long enough to write more than a couple of words at a time.
It don’t think this has much to do with the act of writing itself. I’m pretty clear on the story I want to explore and I’m gaining a greater sense of the characters who populate it. I don’t know the exactly details of the ending, but I know the emotional impact I want to achieve when I get there.
Rather, I think the challenge has had more to do with other things in my life, general frustrations of where IÂ think my writing should be and near constant stress. It doesn’t make for high levels of productivity, and it’s no wonder that I often found myself turning toward some old shows I could comfort watch rather than turn on my computer and return to the work.
Over the weekend, I began to analyze the frustration I was feeling and to become aware of the loop â€” I was frustrated and felt like I couldn’t write, which just made me more frustrated.
Being away of your mental state and how it’s operating can be powerful in helping to come through it. By recognizing the loop, I was able to put together a plan.
In order to address the anxiety, I gave myself a moment of retreat. I did this by putting some relaxing essential oils into a diffuser, turning on some soothing music, and sitting down to meditate. I can’t say I totally cleared my head. It had been a while since I meditated and my thoughts were a constant jumble. However, every time they seemed about to overwhelm me, I returned to my focus to my breath, to the present moment.
After meditating, I pulled out my computer and opened up my novel. I set a timer. All I had to do was write for 20 minutes, no more. Then I could consider myself done for the day, having accomplished my goal of putting words on the page.
Of course, once I got writing, I found it was easy enough to keep writing. By the end I wrote around 2,000 words, bringing me up to 4,500 total.
Using these kinds of techniques â€” grounding myself in the present, setting a minimum timer â€” should help me get through the rest of the work.
As I go along and assess how I’m feeling and how the work is progressing, I can always adjust, change the plan to better suite the current day, hour, minute.
In other words, I’m still hopeful that I can do this.
A Bit of Reading
Not to harp on all my struggles, but reading has been another area this year in which I’ve had difficulty focussing. I don’t think I need to repeat the reasons, you’ve already read them in the sections above.
However, I had a delightful surprise on the reading front this week. A barrier was broken.
I read a book from beginning to end in one sitting â€” and I don’t mean a novella or a graphic novel. No, this was a novel. On the shorter side, but still a novel.
The book in question was HorrorstÃ¶r by Grady Hendrix, which is about a group of employees surviving a furniture store with something evil lurking under the surface. It captivated me from page one and kept me going. I couldn’t put it down â€” and I was delighted by the book as I was about being fully immersed in reading again. (I’ll probably talk about this one more either in a review or my monthly culture consumption.)
Following this success, I picked up Stephen King’sÂ Doctor Sleep â€”a much longer book. Already, I’m 278 pages in and still going strong, and loving this sequel toÂ The Shining.