Over at the Twelfth Planet Press blog (publisher of such excellent tomes as A Book of Endings, Horn, Roadkill/Siren Beat & the pending Sprawl & Glitter Rose, to name a few), editor & publisher Alisa Krasnostein puts the tough word on collections:
To me, a debut collection is almost a declaration, a promise. Of battles won and of wars to be waged. Or of lessons learned and skills developed and new challenges to be taken up. A debut collection says to the world “Here I Am!” It also says, “Judge me now.” A debut collection is a calling card, a cv to submit to bigger and brighter job applications. It says, “This is what I can do, let me try that now…”
Fortunately I didn’t realise the import of A Book of Endings (aBoE, for the lazy amongst us — namely me) when we were working on it. I thought of it as just my foot-stamping tantrum, my I-want-I-want!, my barbaric yawp, my adolescent assertion of my need for some goddamn space in a noisy, crowded world.
I guess it really was about me making some room for myself. And if there was an element of ‘screw you, world!’ in my work on the project, well, it’s probably not intentional. But it’s not misleading either. The book is a kind of take-it-or-leave-it thing, really, isn’t it. Like painting a target on my head, I wanted the book to say ‘this is me, come get me’. So I could run like hell towards the challenge of a world that seemed mostly to be ignoring me.
I don’t mean ignoring me in terms of my writing (though every writer must feel it: the wide gaps between the small bubbles of response you get whenever you put something ‘out there’, the sunk-like-a-stone sensation of losing a story to the clamourous silence of the audience, reviewers, family, colleagues who, like Pavlov, will occasionally and collectively ring a bell to say ‘here’s some food or maybe some kind words, lemme measure your salivation’, but might just as easily electrify your cage to study your budding sense of learned helplessness). No, I don’t mean that, because critics largely have been very gracious about what I call ‘my stuff’. I just mean … in general.
I mean, in general, the world hasn’t given me enough of what I want, despite my own inarticulate attempts to work out what that is. The world has often disappointed me in random ways and, yes, it must be admitted, delighted me in surprising ways & so I figured, hell, I’d throw my hat in the ring. If that was to be the game, I’d put my stamp on it or stamp my foot on it, whichever. I’d see what would happen if the maelstrom of the world was flung a book with my name on the cover, and forced to swallow or goddamn gag on it.
It’s been, I admit, wholly satisfying (though sometimes in perverse ways).
Hello world. Here I am.
Come get me.