One Poet’s 15 Minutes

 

Have not written here for a few weeks, but someone asked me some things about a certain experience, and I decided it was time to get back here. We have all heard about those “fifteen minutes of fame,” that Andy Warhol mentioned. With the advent of global communications and Internet accessibility, his quote has come to mean that anyone, at some time, or another, can become famous, or enjoy momentary celebrity for a short space of time. Even a grandmother who worked as the General Manager of a bookstore and wrote poetry in her spare time.

This blog is about following the signs and symbols in ones path, listening to ones intuition and allowing it to lead one in directions, and to experiences, that might not otherwise be encountered. I am the grandmother mentioned above and this is the story of how I encountered those already mentioned 15 minutes.

I was minding my own business, such as it was. Five years out of college, which I had started at the ripe old age of 37. About two years previously, I had come to the realization that I really wanted to write, be a writer. But, my first love was poetry, and I knew that poets do not make a living writing poetry, at least the majority of them do not. And most of the most famous among that group, didn’t earn that distinction until after they were dead.

A single mother, still raising my last two children, I needed a steady income and had been managing the bookstore for several years, trying to make ends meet. I’d had a few poems accepted in small presses. The payment was a copy of the book, after printing. That free copy was often sent to my Mother, and I would purchase a copy for myself. Not at all a prosperous proposition.

But, my dream was to be a writer. I had decided that I would at least put some of my energy into looking the part, even if I wasn’t actually living it. To accomplish that, I rose early every day and wrote two or three pages, mostly prose, but sometimes pieces of poetry would slip into those pages. I did that long hand and it took me about forty minutes to an hour to fill those pages.

Some of those snippets of poetry had ended up being poems in those free copies I had received. But, it took both time and energy to mail out the submissions, keep track of what I sent out and where, and also money to do the mailing. One day, as I was writing about all of this, and how difficult it was becoming, I realized a very important fact. I worked in a bookstore. I ordered the books that lined some of those shelves.

One of my favorite presses was a publisher that went by the name of Paper Mache Press. I really liked the books they put out, yet had never submitted anything to them. They put out anthologies, mostly written by unknown poets and short story authors, but the anthologies were filled with real life experiences, honest down to earth expressions of individuals like myself, who wrote because they loved that activity.

That morning I made a decision. I had been submitting to small presses, often local or within the state I resided. It was time to move beyond my self-imposed limits. Time to see if I could succeed in a wider place. My decision was simple. I would go to the smoke shop, just down from ‘my’ bookstore, and purchase a copy of Poets &Writers Magazine. They always had a classified section where they posted Calls for Submissions. It was time to broaden the base of my own possibilities.

That morning, before unlocking and opening the bookstore, I went first to the smoke shop, grabbed a copy of the magazine, and took it back to the bookstore, where it sat on a shelf behind the counter for several hours, while I opened the store, caught up with chores and dealt with customers. Sometime, after lunch, I had some quiet time and remembered the magazine. Got it out and went directly to the Call for Submissions page. The first category of submissions was for Anthologies. The first call for Submissions was from Paper Mache Press, wanting black and white photos, poems, and short stories about men and women growing old together.

To say I was a wee bit surprised, would be an understatement. I was floored. Had to read the ad three times to just get my head wrapped around what I was looking at. Had long been a believer in synchronicity and the workings of intuition, but this was way off the wall and just plain weird. After several minutes of just trying to catch my breath, I finally really read the ad and noticed that this anthology was going to be about men and women growing old together. Brick wall.

I was divorced, had ended my marriage shortly after starting college. Wasn’t looking for a husband, wasn’t dating, just wasn’t interested. How could I possibly write about an experience I would probably never participate in? I felt hollow inside. Put the magazine next to my purse and went back to work both disappointed and sad. And if I’m honest, I felt just a bit cheated. There was this carrot, dangling there in front of me, but not really meant for me at all. Wipe out.

                                                      (to be continued..)

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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11 Responses to One Poet’s 15 Minutes

  1. neil reid says:

    Ha! I think my 15 minutes comes to me in doses, maybe 30 seconds or so in time! What’s that mean do you suppose? Do you feel flush when it does?

    But thank you Elizabeth for this post. Rather on point for what I think about, if some slightly angled in another way. Is it also some like puberty for writers, coming into terms with the writing life. You think? How often we think of ourselves as all grown up while our child inside, albeit some intimidated, just wants to jump for joy. Perhaps our rightly earned adult should also make real its’ role to parent and nurture that child as well; might we even feel less life-lonely that way too?

    Maybe I’d played with the “idea” of writing for many years before, but more like some infrequent undecided first drops of rain, nothing serious. Maybe also some unfair that when it did come to me to write, it was an almost “external” experience, one that I received without question or doubt. Didn’t matter that I didn’t know the how, what or even why to write. No struggle, if you get my meaning here. And it remains the same for me today.

    But actually I love the struggle in terms of the “not knowing” part of what next to do. Long or short, that’s where we get eventually I suspect.

    Pardon this some random response, but a talent of yours is to engage me in conversation whether you know it or not. 🙂

    Look forward to your part two Elizabeth, continued next. More good story I’m sure!

    • 1sojournal says:

      Neil, really like that comment “puberty for writers”, wonderfully right on. And like adolescants we dream about those moments a great deal, use our wild imaginations to explore the feel and taste of it all, like stretching out our tongues to catch those first undecided raindrops.

      And yes, I think we are both speaking into some of the same issues. I loved your essay about giving ourselves permission to write ‘bad’ poetry in order to clear a path for the good stuff. If you stay with this particular story, you’ll find that I did all of that and more. Stumbled through this experience, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am human, lol.

      I am glad that my words engage conversation, of any sort. That is one of the basic reasons for writing anything at all. Thanks so much for commenting, you always make me think,

      Elizabeth

  2. Tilly Bud says:

    I can’t wait for the next installment. A really interesting read.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thank you Tilly Bud. I love poetry, love writing it, but also love writing prose as well. There is a balance to be had and this is the place I must come to seek it. Hope you stay with the story, I am learning a great deal just writing it. Love it when I surprise myself in that manner,

      Elizabeth

  3. Ellen says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing some fragments of your soul; I can’t wait to hear more…
    I do believe in intuition; mine has been crystal clear, but when it comes to me and my path, there is always a bit of a mist. My intuition is screaming at me to go in this direction, even though, I am finding it most difficult. My life, my family, their view, the way my art tends to over lap in other areas of the house. I am starting to wonder if I am wasting time. BUT in my heart, I know I must continue on this path, no matter what.
    xXx

    • 1sojournal says:

      Ella, I’m so glad you took the time to read and respond. Your comments helped me decide how to couch the next part of the story. Keep it up, you are making this easy for me, lol. Thank you so much for getting me started in this direction,

      Elizabeth

  4. Susannah says:

    I love to read tales of synchronicity and how our paths appear before us. I enjoyed this very much Elizabeth, I look forward to reading the story as it unfolds. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Another Process | 1sojournal

  6. Sherry Marr says:

    I so applaud your dedication to your gift, rising early to write, in busy days of mothering and working to pay the bills. I knew I was a writer very young, but in those years of mothering, surviving took most of my focus (poverty, single mom of four active kids). I wrote sporadically but always knew I should be writing more, writing my way “through”. I regret now that I did not keep a journal, did not write daily. I also can look back at the journey and clearly see where “synchronicity” appeared at important junctures, where I was guided and helped, where my life took important and unexpected turnings. I enjoyed this piece, my friend, and look forward to more.

    Unreal, to see Paper Mache at the top of the list, then see the topic, which you thought was not one you could write to. Am looking forward to seeing what you did, and likely how you discovered it was EXACTLY what you could write about.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Sherry, I think you may have found the solution to your own problem right here in your comment. You can look back on the journey and clearly see where certain things happened. And because we are doing only one stage at a time, you don’t have to worry about the ‘whole’ of it, just this one step. And by the way, that is exactly how this set of posts came to be written at all. Someone asked me a question, and I decided to make a full answer out of it. Concentrating on just one segment, making that one clear and readable made the chore so much more doable.

      And yes, the whole thing seemed somewhat unreal. I mean, I had only decided that morning about what I would do, and here was the call for submission from the only press I really wanted to try for. I’m fairly certain that if God was watching me, He/She and some divine angel cronies must have been doing a lot of belly laughing.

      Elizabeth

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