Sunday, November 16, 2008


I've started writing another book. Hah! It is to laugh, or cry, I'm not sure. That makes how many books in progress?
  • Arbitrary Passions -- memoir/travelogue, close to done
  • Rasathi -- YA fantasy, three quarters-done, but I kind of want to rip out half of it and redo it with a better protagonist
  • Writing Your Identity -- writing book, maybe one-quarter drafted; sort of stalled out during busy semester
  • Kamala -- literary novel, one tiny chapter written; need to do masses of war research before I'm really comfortable writing this one; god, a grant would be helpful here, giving me a teaching release so I can travel, interview soldiers, and have research time. Must apply for grants.
  • The Arrangement -- literary novel on back burner, completed, but I think I may want to go back and revise it at some point before it goes out on the market again
  • Domestic -- new book!
On the plus side, the new book will be very quick to write. Or at least, I can write it in quick bits. Because it is a book of poems! I was writing a new poem a few days ago, spurred I think by reading so much good poetry for the Wisconsin Arts Council jury, and suddenly realized that in fact, the new poem and "Learning the Hour" would work well as part of a series of poems -- several of them jumped to mind right away, in fact. I want to write about domesticity in a variety of arenas -- cooking and cleaning and childcare and guilt and anxiety and partnership and exhaustion and servants and organizing closets and crocheting -- what makes up most of the daily fabric of my life, in fact. I'm quite excited about the idea. I love the poem I just wrote.

One unfortunate consequence though is that I won't be posting new poems on my site as I normally would -- I'll be sending them out, hoping to get them published first. It feels a bit unnerving to do this; I don't generally think of myself as a serious poet. The thought terrifies me a little bit, actually. But sometimes you have to just follow where the writing takes you.

A couple of people have been giving me career advice lately, about these questions of writing critical papers or YA fantasy or what-have-you. And the advice all boils down to the same advice I gave some parents at Beth's 40th birthday party last night, when they told me that their brilliant fifteen-year-old daughter wanted to write, and what did I think she should write about? I told them she should write what she feels passionate about. She should write what she loves and hates and can't stop thinking and talking about. I know this is the right choice when writing. It's funny that I need to hear it from other people to start believing it for myself again.

This is a poem someone wrote for me in the rec.arts.poems newsgroup, about fifteen years ago. Sorry it took me so long, Ralph. I'm going to try to do better now.

Your resistance to being perceived as a strong effective poet
perhaps some residue
from a time
perhaps a lifetime
when you felt
not what something within you said you should be
it is not up to you
the truthfulness of your heart
all you can do is foster it
impede it.
You still have a choice.
You can say "no" some days
you can say "yes" some days
I have known you to say

-- Ralph Cherubini


Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

I had to lie down after reading your list, Mary Anne. Do you find it creatively stimulating to alternate between fiction and non-fiction or is it hard to switch between real and imaginary worlds?

10:53 PM  
Blogger Mary Anne Mohanraj said...

I'm not finding it hard to switch, and I *think* this is actually easier than working on one book at a time, because when I get stuck on one, I can wander off to another. Also, with kid, my thoughts tend to be much more scattered than they used to be, and this suits that too.

Of course, this does mean none of them might get finished until 2020...

7:16 AM  

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