Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another Chapbook Was Born // earth things

In the final days of 2013, I was able to keep the vow I made to myself about making a chapbook every year, forever. I made this vow in 2010. I violated the vow in 2011. 2012 and 2013 have been kept. Three of four so far. Hopefully the ratio only gets better.
earth things, December 2013
Though it makes me a little nauseated after having just expended a lot of energy to complete earth things, I can't help thinking already about what I will put together for 2014. I haven't even taken the time yet to really sit with this collection that I've made.

At this point, I think it is safe to say that putting together a chapbook has become a part of my writing process. After posting so many pieces over a period of time, whether it's a year or several, it feels necessary to make something cohesive out of the mess. One of the initial reasons that I began making chapbooks was that I was reading poetry at various spaces often, and I liked the idea of putting together something that people can walk away with.

The process of making Tracing Steps helped me work through the writing I did about my experience traveling to Cambodia for the first time, interacting with being in the "motherland" as a member of the diaspora, and the reality check the experience gave me about the idea of home.

The process of making of cities and lovers was a way of thinking about moving away from LA, all the things I'd found here, all the things I'd be leaving behind. "drifters (perhaps not)" is a piece about my mixed feelings about being someone who simultaneously wants to build community while also being in different places often. And it was also a sort of love letter to LA. There are many love letters to be written to LA.

A lot of the feeling behind earth things came from a period of writing I did back in March 2010. It was around that time that I really began to embrace trying to grow things after the early college experiments. I had a photo album on Facebook called "Do you believe in magic?" that was dedicated to photos of my plant babies and sproutlings. Since then, I've spent more and more time with dirt and growing things and thinking about my relationship with the earth, our relationship with one another, how to create balance, how to grow. The pieces in the collection were written over the last few years, and edited most fiercely in the 24 hours before printing.
Copernicus, my late-night editing assistant.
After having already put together two chapbooks, some of the logistical concerns for earth things were lessened. I think I stalled a bit on completing the collection because I was dreading the formatting part. The editing happened in earnest when I let go of attachment to creating a new aesthetic for the book and let myself stick to what I found worked in terms of font/size for previous chapbooks.

A few notes if you're looking to create (a half-page 5.5"x 8.5") chapbook:
  • Your final page count should be divisible by 4 to ensure full use of both sides of each sheet.
  • Size each page to 5.5" wide by 8.5" tall, adjust margins to .25"
  • CreateBooklet is what I use to put the document into proper PDF printing form. Saves me the headache of trying to figure out what page goes where.
  • It can be based on a theme, or a time period, or anything you want, really. Mine are thematic because that's how my brain works. 
  • Printing and laying everything out helps.
  • Taking time between editing sessions (days, weeks, months) also helps.
  • Do not underestimate the power of a glass of wine and a soak in a hot tub.
Excerpt from earth things, available at a price of your choosing ($7-12 suggested):
Happy new year.

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