Bah, Humbug to Idle Hands

Coincidentally, Steve Brightman's 13 Ways Of Looking At Lou Reed is the 13th book Crisis Chronicles Press has published in the year 2013.  I feel pretty good about that, though my joy in publishing more than one fine book a month is tempered by the knowledge that I began the year intending to publish two a month, which means I'm essentially 11 books behind.  Sometimes it's obvious, as when I published Cheap and Easy Magazine in November though its cover art says August (in a preface to the mag I encouraged folk to think of the adjective august instead of the month).  Sometimes, it's not so obvious — unless you're one of our authors waiting to see your book in print.

How did this happen?  Well, we published two books in January and two in February as planned — though just barely.  Then Mom went into the hospital again and I was there with her every day for over two months while also trying to keep up with her affairs and save her house.  I had no time or mind for the press.  Then Mom passed away in May and for much of the summer I struggled to get back to work. Finally in August the press was rolling full time again, just in time for me to get a golden opportunity at "real" (not at home) employment for the first time in several years.  Plus we took a two week trip to Florida to visit my wife's ailing dad.  Since September, I've been receiving free culinary arts schooling and working three long days a week (e.g., Friday I was there 13 hours) at Edwins Restaurant on Shaker Square.  That means I'm trying to do the same amount of press work in a third of the time I'm accustomed to, and that's really not doable since I insist on maintaining (and even continually increasing) the high quality of our work.

Still, 13 books is good for the year, especially considering the year I've had (losing my sister in law, two aunts, my mom, an old friend and an uncle in a 13 month period — plus starting the new job, having two of our grandchildren undergo surgeries, and so on). In 2008 we only published 1 chapbook. In 2009, we published 5; in 2010, only 1 again; in 2011, 10; and in 2012, 17 (that was another year I'd planned to publish 24). 

I'm hoping/planning to get 2 more done this month, bringing our number for the year to 15.  Then we have another 30 we're committed to publishing in 2014-15.  I'll be out of school this March, but then they will transition me immediately into another restaurant job.  So... we've got our hands full.  I might not have taken on all these projects if I'd known I'd be working full time outside the house. But they're all projects that excite and inspire me — so passing them by would've been difficult.  I'm also still trying to publish a poem a day in our online Crisis Chronicles litmag

Because of all of this, I'm cutting down on my number of reading engagements next year (in 2013 I gave 25 featured readings in 15 cities) and I'm gonna try to use Facebook for as little as possible beyond essential press comunications (I'm already using it far less than I used to).  At the end of 2014, when I hope to be mostly caught up, I'm going to try approaching the press a bit differently. Instead of publishing every great work that crosses my desk and trying to make a full time job of it as I've done in the past, I'm toying with the idea of accepting only 6 big projects a year. That way I can live with one exclusively for a couple of months and relish it more instead of rushing to draw another gun and fire another round every chance I get. Then we'll see where it goes from there. 

Of course this is tentative and subject to change.  The only guarantee is that we will get these 30-plus currently commited books done and done well and we and our authors will be proud of them and hopefully you'll enjoy them.  I'd love to just keep doing press work full time. But I also need to pay the bills. So I'm working out a balance between the two.

Thanks for your patience and support. I'm fairly certain you're gonna love our next several releases.  More information on those will be forthcoming.  Meanwhile, here's wishing you happy holidays and a joyous new year!

Peace, love and poetry,
John Burroughs
Crisis Chronicles Press

  • Trackbacks are closed for this post.

  • 12/9/2013 11:45 PM Alex N. wrote:

    This is my strategy now, too. I realized a few years back that it's better to do great things you're passionate about with a frequency that won't kill you than to let the excitement get you ahead of yourself and then burn out on your passions.

    Not coincidentally, right after I figured that out people started asking me why I wasn't at a lot of readings any more. The answer was simple - I'd seen most of the people at those readings perform a dozen dozen times, and I'd performed for those exact people at least that much.

    I started aspiring to show up to be wowed. If I didn't walk out of a poetry reading hating myself for not being productive enough, I considered it a failed venture. I started working on designing a poetry press that would focus on absolute quality and a level of aesthetic discourse that other presses lack.

    Being choosy isn't a vice, and saying "no" isn't a sin. It took me a long time to learn that, and I had to do a lot of things I didn't want to do until I did. Now, people say from time to time that I'm not qualified to do this or that because I'm "out of the scene," as if it is "the scene" that authorizes personal creativity, or as if one must seek permission from "the scene" before he decides to bring together poets and other artists.

    Pardon my French, but fuck the scene. I don't need to hear poem X from poet Y for the third time this month because they don't have time to write with their busy schedule of glad-handing and re- and re-re-reading. I've got work to do. I've got poetry to read, poetry to write, poetry to edit, and poetry to publish. I've got a day job to get through, friends to actually see and cherish, and loved ones to share my life with before they are gone or I am.

    Be a poet, love poetry. Write. Read. Live a life that makes your writing better or your readings more meaningful. EVERYTHING else is superfluous.

    Come by sometime and we'll set something on the press.

    Reply to this
    1. 12/14/2013 9:23 AM John Burroughs wrote:
      Thank you, brother Bunsen!
      Reply to this
  • 12/10/2013 11:39 AM Christina wrote:
    You could never be accused of having idle hands my dear friend, ever. <3

    I think I'm most grateful you've been offered an opportunity to support yourself and your family and you've taken it. It is quite a change but a wonderful opportunity a long time in the waiting. Because what a treasured opportunity it is. Even if it eats into the time of your other passion poetry. They will in time find a comfortable balance once this transition is over.

    Second, I think you expect a great deal of yourself, far more than is sometimes humanly possible. As a friend it often worries me. This is a good thing: to feel driven and passionate about what you do and what you want to accomplish but a bad thing if it steals away precious moments in your life that bring joy. Cherish the small moments.... I know right time they are few.

    Excellence is something to strive for in all we do... you've never shown anything but admirable effort in balancing all the disparate elements in your life and spinning them into silver John. For that reason I have the greatest admiration for you.

    But.... don't forget that life is also for play as well as for work. Achievements are hollow without people to share them with. Don't forget to take time to play....
    Reply to this
    1. 12/14/2013 9:24 AM John Burroughs wrote:
      Thank you, Chris!
      Reply to this
  • 12/23/2013 5:07 PM Connie Anderson wrote:
    John I am so sorry for your loses. To many I wish you and your family a very Blessed Christmas and best wishes for your accomplishments in 2014
    Reply to this
    1. 12/30/2013 10:17 AM John Burroughs wrote:
      Thank you, Connie.  It's very good to hear from you.  Happy 2014 to you and yours!
      Reply to this
  • 12/27/2013 2:37 PM Natalie Easton wrote:
    Wow, what a workload on top of the intense personal challenges you've gone through during this year. I just wanted to chime in and say how much your hard work is appreciated and that I hope you find time for yourself somewhere in there.

    Have a Happy New Year, John!
    Reply to this
    1. 12/30/2013 10:21 AM John Burroughs wrote:
      Thank you so much, Natalie.  Looking forward to working on your book in the new year!
      Reply to this
Leave a comment


 Email (will not be published)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.