nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘publication

‘within easy reach’ – the history of a writing project

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As I prepare for the publication and launch of my poetry book within easy reach, I am thinking about how long it takes to see a writing project through from beginning to end.

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Of course, the time depends on the writer, the project and many circumstances beyond the writer’s control. But the way to a book of poems can be long … for me it has not been days or months, but years.

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2010

For my book, the first idea came in 2010 when my husband and I were exploring our new lake property. We knew so little about the property and were delighted to find blackberries, growing in profusion along the ridge above the lake. I can still taste those plump indigo berries and remember how quickly we filled my husband’s hat (the only container we had for picking). I wrote the first poem for the project (‘berries in brambles’) at the end of the summer. By then I was thinking about combining my interests in local food and botany to write a manuscript of poems about ‘growing and gathering’.

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blackberries at our lake property

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2011

The second step in the project came with an application to artsnb for a Creation Grant.  Not every writer seeks funding, but I knew, after 35 years of work, that I would produce my best work with a clear purpose and deadlines. I applied to artsnb in March 2011, in time for their April 1st deadline. When I was not successful, I tried again for the October 1st deadline and in December, a few weeks before my retirement, I received the letter saying my project had been approved. I would be able to transition from work into an endeavor I knew I would love!

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2012

The writing of ‘growing and gathering’ continued through the spring and summer of 2012. I was determined to base my poems on experience, so I spent lots of time hiking and driving to locate and pick the various plants I wanted to write about. That spring we tapped twelve of our red maple trees and planted a small garden. Many of the plants I harvested grow on our properties at home and at the lake, but for some of the plants, we drove the countryside, poking about in the right habitat to find the plants I sought. My best memory is of a spring day along the Dunbar Stream north of Fredericton, discovering mounds of trout lily leaves growing on the floodplains along the brook.

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Trout Lily in bloom

Trout Lily, also known as Dog’s Tooth Violet or Yellow Adder’s-tongue

 

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For the next months, I harvested leaves and roots and nuts and berries. I chopped greens. I boiled, simmered and sautéed. I competed, unsuccessfully, with squirrels for hazelnuts. I scraped gum from spruce trees and peeled wild sarsaparilla roots. And, of course, I ate my fill of raspberries, blueberries, dandelion greens, fiddleheads, samphire greens, orach leaves and apples. From my own garden, I harvested rhubarb and herbs, onions and tomatoes. I visited Farmers Markets and roadside stands, sampling the best local produce in the world.  I stirred memories from my own family history, recalling days when my dad kept bee hives and when my mom and I went blueberry picking. Really doesn’t sound like work, right?

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ingredients

salad ingredients from the garden and market

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And then I wrote. And did research about the edibility of plants. And wrote some more. And did lots of pencil drawings. As I wrote, I consulted my Floras of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I completed my project with a manuscript of 135 poems and 29 pencil drawings. I submitted my manuscript to artsnb in October 2012.

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2013

For me, the writing is only part of the process. I try to read my poems as often as possible, and I submit regularly for publication. For the ‘growing and gathering’ project, I read poems at eleven events and submitted poems to 12 literary journals.  I had some success and, of the poems in the book, twelve have been previously published in seven literary journals. I also submitted the manuscript to the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation writing contest in 2013, winning Honorable Mention.  Now that all sounds like work!

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Orach at Minister's Island

Orach growing among the rocks at the upper end of the Minister’s Island causeway

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2014

From the beginning, I knew I wanted a published book of the ‘growing and gathering’ poems. So in 2014, after revisions and paring the poems to a reasonable book length, I began to submit to publishers. I submitted to three publishers and received three kind rejections. Then, in the fall of 2014, at the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation WordsFall, I met Keith Helmuth and Brendan Helmuth of Chapel Street Editions in Woodstock. They were interested in publishing books about the natural and human history of the Saint John River and I wondered if they might be interested in my book. I sent them my manuscript and soon began one of the best partnerships of my life.

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2015 – 2016

During the last months, Keith and Brendan have worked to prepare my manuscript for publication. I have read every poem 20 times, revisited sources, squinted at Latin names to make certain they are spelled correctly and considered every comma and every line break.

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Within a few weeks, my poetry book, within easy reach, will be a reality. When I first hold the finished book in my hands, I know I will be experiencing a milestone in my life. I will probably melt into a puddle. And the work will not yet be done! Ahead of me are readings and marketing and signing copies. I hope the rooms where I present my book are crowded with people eager to buy and read, but I know there may be places where I will be hoping a lone bystander will purchase a copy.

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From beginning to end, my book has taken almost six years to complete. This may sound a bit daunting for a new writer reading this, but it is also encouraging. Your goal, like mine, may be publication. But it may also be to create a body of work representative of your life as a writer. My experience shows that every line, every paragraph, every poem you write, is part of a path towards your goal, whatever it may be.  ‘A writer writes.’

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wild strawberries

wild strawberries at our lake property

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

 

Written by jane tims

April 11, 2016 at 7:00 am

writing a novel … next (brave) step

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For the past two years, I have been working on a novel.   The working title of the book is ‘Saving the Landing Church’ – the actual title is ‘Open to the Skies’.  For more information about the process of writing ‘Open to the Skies’, have a look at the category ‘writing a novel’. https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/writing-a-novel-telling-a-story/

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The book is about a woman who falls in love with an old church and decides to save it from demolition, in spite of active resistance from members of the community.

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the setting for my novel … an old church and its hall and rectory are moved to a new location along the St. John River to create a writers’ retreat …

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After taking my book through nine drafts, numerous readings of bits with my writing groups, and a third-party edit, I have taken the next (brave) step.  I am sending my novel to three publishing companies.  I chose the publishers based on their dedication to Canadian authors and subjects, their willingness to read unsolicited manuscripts, and their current book lists.

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It will be a long wait.  I know from past experience that I may not hear from them for six to eight months, and then it will likely be ‘no’.  This is not lack of confidence or uncertainty about my skill.  It is reality – most book publishers get up to a thousand submissions per year and, of course, can only choose a few of these to publish.  However, on my side is the characteristic of doggedness.

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I will be sure and let you know what happens next with ‘Open to the Skies’.  Meanwhile, I’ll be busy working on a sequel to the first book and, of course, on my poetry.

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 16, 2015 at 7:34 am

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