I guess the most logical way for me to lay out my series of thank-yous is go about it chronologically.
If I start at the very beginning I must start by thanking Fran Podulka, my neighbor and mentor. Soon after I moved in, I was going through a Reynolds Price phase. While searching the library stacks for his works, I came across Fran’s novel The Wonder Jungle (Putnam, 1973). I read it, called her, told her I was a writer myself, and we have been friends since. Fran never seems to have any doubts in me even though I am not always so sure of myself. And this is empowering since Fran is an accomplished writer of fiction and poetry. Her poem “The Fitting” appeared in the April 11, 2003 feature in the Chicago Tribune. She introduced me to The Writers, a 50-member workshop group that meets Wednesday mornings. What a great group this is (I’m sure it will come up it in future posts). I have made invaluable friendships there and learned a few things too. One is that it takes a community to raise a writer. Lucky for us in Chicago we have so many literary resources. Another terrific organization that helps writers be heard is The Guild Complex. And another woman who has always been in my corner is Beate Minkovski from Women Made Gallery, a terrific resource for poets and visual artists. Beate works tirelessly for the gallery and artists.
In starting this project, I bounced my idea off a few people. One person acting as a sounding board was Charlotte Digregorio. She has four nonfiction books of her own; the latest, Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes, came out in 2005. You might also have read Charlotte’s poetry; she is active in the The Haiku Society of America. Another person who met with me is Carlyle Cater, who heard my ideas and encouraged me. I am also indebted to the Lawyers for the Creative Arts because lawyers are part of that community needed by writers and publishers, and by the time I consulted LCA, I knew I was going to be a publisher. That’s also when I turned to other small presses for advice. Kevin Watson of Press 53, Dan Wickett of Dzanc Books were generous in their replies to my questions about imprints. Others in the industry like Nathan Bransford and Sarah Weinman (who now works for Publishers Marketplace) were also kind enough to answer my emails.
Some years back I went to hear Joe Meno (his story “A Strange Episode of Aqua Voyage” appears in Solace in So Many Words) at Comix Revolution in Evanston. He was part of panel and so was Dan Sinker of Punk Planet, and I was struck by something Dan said, which was something to the effect that if you want to see your work out in the world, if you want to see your idea come to fruition, you should do it yourself. More recently I went to lecture by Dan Sinker and Dominique Rachah of Sourcebooks (another awesome publisher) put on by the Chicago Publishers Gallery (another great Chicago resource). Dominque showed us this breath-taking interactive book, and Dan spoke about how the phone figures in new literary communications; his project is Cell Stories. (These days Dan’s name is also connected to a certain Twitter account and book deal–effing golden Mr. Mayor.) Both these speakers spoke at length with ease and ability and it was obvious they knew about publishing today. But their brilliance wasn’t the only thing that overwhelmed me–I think it was the term, metadata, that made me realize I could use some help as far as the web, e-books, and other stuff I am just beginning to understand. ( Let me put it this way: the word “tags” has a new meaning to me now.) Anyway, an email to Dan Sinker put me in touch with Paul M. Davis who helped me figure out a few bits. He has a great blog Is Greater Than. Last but not least, I also want to acknowledge Ellen T. McKnight who put in hours proofreading. Ellen’s prose poem “Navigation” appears in the latest After Hours and “In the Restaurant” appears in Thunderclap. She took time away from working on her novel to work on Solace in So Many Words.
All these people helped me and for this I am grateful. And, these are just some of those in the community who have given me a boost up. I know as soon as I post I will think of others to add. But that is one of the beauties of a blog, I guess. I can go back and add it–at least I think I can–can’t I? If I couldn’t be more obvious, this whole blog thing is new to me. So I ask for patience with my ineptitude. And, I’ll leave you by saying thanks. For if you made it this far, you certainly deserve it. Ta.