Mend: Why It Took Six Years

Two weeks ago I shared the news that my book, MEND, was accepted for publication by University Press of Kentucky.

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So since my acceptance letter I’ve been doing my best to figure out marketing, as well as editing and preparing MEND for publication. I’m only now realizing too, the fact that I have written a book. It’s still a pretty fantastic idea, especially after working on it for 6 years. It shouldn’t have taken six years, but it took me so long mainly because other important things were happening. In the past six years I’ve had a twin pregnancy, a single pregnancy, moved, began a new job, and did I say I became a mother? I only had one year of writing the book before I had children.

It was difficult to find time to write once I became a mother, but it became necessary that I use the time I had. The days of lingering in coffee shops for hours were over. “Writer’s block” became a thing of the past. If I was going to sit down to write, I had to do work, whether it was good or bad. And a lot of it was bad. My creative energy was now divided into writing a great poem, braiding my daughter’s hair or a myriad of other tasks. The first year of my twins (Eden and Vivienne’s) lives, I made their shoes. Yes, I am that woman. It was a unique time, and now I don’t know how I did it. I made barefoot sandals and spent hours finding perfectly coordinating outfits and making headbands to match.

Suffice it to say, it was tough to make writing a priority, so for a while, it was on the back burner. What motivated me more than anything was the thought of losing my gift of being a writer. I was afraid that if I continued to not write consistently, I’d become the example of every old poet who’d chosen “the simple life” over their art. So, after the first couple of years of motherhood, I returned to work full time and began working on the manuscript again, slowly adding piece after piece until finally I attended a writing conference in Miami with the Homeschool. Homeschool Literary Lambda is an organization that holds workshops on visual art and poetry. During the workshop, which was a surreal experience—perhaps because it was my first time away from my children—I wandered around Miami in a kind of daze, listening to music and breathing in the salt of the city. The workshop I was in was taught by Cathy Park Hong, and she was teaching us the art of the long poem. We’d been assigned to write a series of poems. I was mildly annoyed. I thought it would be practical to just write what we wanted, and I didn’t want to have to stick to one subject. This annoyance was short sighted.

A year before, I’d been constantly praying and thinking about what would make the book complete. It was given to me in the middle of the night—and I know it was divine—three words. “Crown of Sonnets.” I know this may sound crazy to some, but this was exactly how it happened. I’d never written a crown of sonnets. I didn’t even have a clear concept of the form. A year later at the conference, I still hadn’t written it. Two weeks after Hong’s workshop, however, it came. I began writing the long poem in my collection, a  sonnet corona entitled, “What Yields.” I worked on the poem for three weeks and by the end I had written eleven sonnets for the series.  I finally had the end of the book.

That was February of 2016. By March I’d finished editing the collection and was sending it out for publication. It had been six years since I’d first begun researching.

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