routine of falling in love

In publishing and design, there’s a definite pattern that pulls me in like a vortex each time I begin a project. It’s a lot like a relationship. I receive a query and I’ve caught the eye of a stranger. I receive the manuscript and I’m intrigued. I begin to theorize about ways to best represent the literature in visual form; I’m its caretaker now, I have feelings for it. I begin working with the literature, casting it onto the page, and I’m all in. Somewhere in the last hours of making the book, I feel overwhelmed. It’s late, but I have a deadline. There are so many last-minute changes that will affect the layout, and I don’t want to make them! But I do, and it’s better. I’ve lost sight of the life that exists outside my computer. But then, it’s complete and the author is jubilant and another being is coming into the world. There’s a lull, like the object of my recent infatuation has gone abroad for a while. Then: the package arrives! Now it’s physical. I’m deeply in love again.

When my chapbook, Birth in Storm, won the Emerge Publications Chapbook Contest, I experienced a disconnect between the manuscript and the package. Ah, this is what it’s like to be the author!  You sit back and let the physical thing manifest out of sight. My little, 33-page book arrived on my doorstep and I tore the package open. Inside, a whole litter of glossy books spilling over each other.

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Like I always do, I turned the book over in my hands, checking that the titles and graphics weren’t too close to the bleed, scanning for errors in the blurbs or uneven strokes, off-centered text. It looked good. Proceed to the inside: title page, acknowledgements, good, good. And then that first poem. It was with that first poem that I became the author, I think, instead of the steward of the poems, merely having a hand in putting them out there. This is my poem, and the next one is mine too, and so on and so on. It would be impossible for me to sit down and read this book like anyone else. This was an entirely different thing. A different kind of love.

But I wasn’t so head-over-heels that I missed the one typo. Just one. I’m not telling you what it is. Nobody’s perfect.

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