comments from the edge of responsibility

21 Jan

As a poet and a writer one of the great thrills and measures of success is getting published. Even after my own relative achievements, I am thrilled to be published and it doesn’t matter the size of the publication. In this instance, size does not matter. At the end of 2008 I received notification that my work would be reprinted in two separate anthologies; one, a best of type deal; and, the other, a general reprint of an entire years publication. To me that was like buying Extenze and having it really work. Amazing!

In the same e-mail there were fast and easy buttons that took me to the webpage I could buy the books. So I did. And let me note here that I did not take this as a gimmick to get the poets to buy the books. I understand cost and blah, blah, blah, so if you want to get your published work, sometimes you buy it. Sucks, yes but it is reality in these glorious post-Bush revolution years. A couple of weeks go by and, to be honest I forgot I bought them, they show up. With great enthusiasm I tear open the box, tear open the wrapper, flip to the table of contents to find my poem and…

There’s my poem, but what’s that title? Huh, keep reading. That’s my poem, but what’s with all the weird line breaks and changes. Hmmm. Where’s the last stanza?

With a blink I leap to my feet, race to my computer and open my [Accepted Poems 2008] file. It takes a few minutes but I find the poem in question. Thinking that I fucked up, and I fuck up the time, I compared the printed version versus the electronic one. I even compared the modification stamp on the electric one to make sure I had not made any changes after I submitted. (I hadn’t)

Then it struck me.

I publish the brilliant Heroin Love Songs. Keep in mind that doing a magazine of any sort is a new occupation for me, also note I have edited the written word for literally twenty years in different formats; I realized the problem. There’s no editing, no oversight. No one went back and combed it for errors, gaffs, oops, fuck-ups, and related synonyms. And really there is no blame to be placed. You could say the editor of the publication, or the poet/writer, or a combination. Thinking about my experience with HLS I know I have made a thousand errors. When I receive each edition after publication I do another check, then another, to find every fucking thing I can. From spelling, to language, to wrong words, to structure and format, I pour over the thing. It’s not as if I didn’t do this in the first place, before publication, which makes much more sense. I do. I spend more time cleaning up, than putting it together. It’s a tedious, mindbogglingly-boring task. No amount of speed can make me focus enough to endure that. Suddenly HLS didn’t seem so brilliant and I felt the need to apologize to all of those I had published. (Sorry again.)

A few weeks later, after taking another Extenze tablet, I sat on my bed flipping through the cable channels before settling on a soft-core porn movie on Cinemax. I watched a very attractive man simulate sex with a semi-attractive woman, grew bored and opened my [Accepted Poems 2008] file. I opened every single Word document and spent the next seven hours editing my own work. To my own surprise, and probably not to those that have published my writing, I found hundreds of errors. Literally.
As the sun began to peak over the horizon, I finished the last rewrite, closed the computer, and discovered the Extenze had started its magic. That figures. With my wife being out of town, a semi-hard erection served little purpose. I cursed it mildly and went to sleep.

When I woke the next day I decided that I had to change some things. I decided to add a few readers to my editorial board for Heroin Love Songs. We would do a couple of read through’s before going to press. It makes sense now but when you’re in the forest… Any writing I received that is littered with errors, meaning more than one or two, would be kicked back and rejected for that issue. And the last thought, the most important, is that I would repackage the first four issues into two anthologies, correcting all the fuck-up misses I made, and put out for consumption. Not that anyone would buy but my conscious would be clear. And that, really, is the more important issue at hand.

Part 2

At least I should refer to this as part 2.

When I posted the above essay a friend of mine sent a note:

Jack,
You are an idiot. Did you not edit the article before you posted? There are a thousand errors. Either stop writing or learn how to edit. Or, at least, focus. I know you are ADHD, or whatever the acronym is, but seriously, slow down.

Also, I can’t believe you didn’t accept my poems. Asshole. Not only do you have zero skill in editing, you have no taste either.

You suck.

Regards,

Arden Moore

I have known Arden for almost 40 years. Our parents were friends. He was one of those fat, stupid kids no one else would play with so my father paid me to be his friend. A nice racket. But Arden whines, complains and bitches about everything. As we grew older Arden became a friend of sorts, the kind that always did the odd errands you never wanted to do, such as: Hey, Arden, run and get something from MacDonalds, or, Hey, Arden, we’re out of beer, hit the store, okay? That kind of thing. When I went into writing, Arden followed; when I became a teacher, Arden followed; and when I moved to Toad Suck…

While he may be a horrible writer (I mean really bad) he is a semi-decent person and an extraordinary editor. He can catch the smallest detail. When he does, he will point it out, and point it out, and point it out until you wanna smash his face with a hot frying pan filled with bacon grease.

So I went through the published version of the article above and to my horror I found seven errors. Minor, more or less, but errors. Pissed me off.

Immediately I pulled it from my blog page, relieved for a change that no one reads the thing, fixed all the goofs and put it back up. As my sense of authority had crumbled somewhat I reread Arden’s submissions as well, thinking I missed something and they were gold. They were not.

That night I wrote Arden back.

Dear Arden;

U R a Cunt. Git ovr it. BTW ur poetry still sucks and i wont ever pub it.

c you at lunch – thurs.

jack

I closed down my computer and jumped into bed, my Extenz regimen working quite well. The wife and I bumped fuzzies for a couple of hours before we both fell into a blissful sleep. Around three am I woke to discover my erection still in place and a sudden pain from that general area. Not a significant pain but pain in that region is cause for concern. By seven am the thing still had not deflated and then it hit me.

Before going to bed I took the blue pill, forgetting that I cannot take the blue pill with the Extenz as in rare cases there may be side effects. One such side affect is called priapism. Suddenly the pain kicked into overdrive and my wife jumped from the bed and took me to the hospital.

Picture if you will a man that has used Extenz to gain size with priapism. Not that I had much to start with, but in pajama’s…Visual image is ugly.

The nurse ushered me into a curtained off area as I suffered in pain and embarrassment. The laughter didn’t help. They took care of the issue immediately by utilizing one of the options listed below.

Treatment options include:

1. Ice packs: Ice applied to the penis and perineum may reduce swelling.
2. Surgical ligation: Used in cases where an artery has been ruptured, the doctor will ligate (tie off) the artery that is causing the priapism in order to restore normal blood flow.
3. Intracavernous injection : Used for low-flow priapism, during this treatment drugs known as alpha-agonists are injected into the penis. This causes the veins to narrow, reducing blood flow to the penis and easing swelling to the area.
4. Surgical shunt: Also used for low-flow priapism, a shunt is a passageway that is surgically inserted into the penis to divert the blood flow and allow circulation to return to normal.
5. Aspiration: After numbing the penis, doctors will insert a needle and drain blood from the penis to reduce pressure and swelling.

I had the dubious honor of experiencing option one and three.

Several hours later at home in my writing chair staring at my computer I realized that attention to detail is an issue for me. Instead of pointing to others or demanding perfection from anyone else, I had to look inward. I immediately sent an email to the journal that put out the anthologies and thanked them profusely for involving me.

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