I wish I had managed to track down the exact reference for this quote from Sylvia Plath, so that I would know under exactly what circumstances she said it. Did she, for example, mean that the writing was lousy and that that’s why it had never been published? Or did she mean that it would stop stinking once the impulse to publish it had been answered? I took this latter meaning as my own yesterday and today, in getting my poetry–of which very few poems have seen the light of day–online with the U. S. Copyright Office and then here to you.
Mostly, I wouldn’t say the poems actually were stinky, though they were dusty and dog-eared (even the more recent ones) from being carried around in an equally ratty notebook. I typed them up yesterday and this morning, and then got online with the U. S. Copyright Office formally to “seal the deal.” You can file online for $35, provided that all their conditions are met and you are only publishing online (publishing in print form costs more, takes longer, and has more conditions). So, since I just wanted to publish right now for the sake of my website (maybe some kind editor of print books will come along and discover me eventually, should I prove worthy), I went ahead and went through the process. It can be done in a very short amount of time, and the instructions are generally quite clear, once you get used to the format. I had a little trouble at first, because I haven’t been online to copyright since my last novel was completed in 2010, but the system is made for people who simply want to follow instructions without too much who-hah.
The best part is, that although your case may be pending for a day or two (in this case, over the weekend), once you’ve (1) applied (2) paid and (3) uploaded your files successfully (in that order), your work is officially copyrighted and registered. The copyright office even sends you several e-mails during the process to let you know when each part is complete. So, you don’t have to cool your heels wondering why, oh why, you didn’t start an hour earlier in the morning, or take less time for lunch, or why you were so muddle-headed about the process when it told you (fairly clearly) what to do. They will send you a paper copy of your registration in about 6 months (they say less, but face it, there are lots of people publishing out there).
So, now–my poems are up on this site, and though I would like to get rich off them and off my other writings too, I’m realistic enough to recognize that I should probably just point once more to my PayPal button, silently, and let it go at that. Like Shakespeare said, “Sell when you can, you are not for all markets.” I hope you will read my poems at your own pace, and enjoy them, and tell me what you like or were perhaps left cold by (I love getting comments and replies, and haven’t had nearly enough of them so far). And now you know what I was doing instead of putting up a post a day at the end of this week! I was suffering (read typing and proofreading) for my art!
A word about the poems themselves: they go from my days as an undergraduate (when I won an honorable mention in a contest for about 3-4 of them) to the recent poems I wrote for the characters in my first published novel to exchange and read to each other. Had I been able to remember exactly which poems had placed in the contest, I would have noted it down, but it’s too long ago now, and those are old moments of near-glory. What’s more important now is how the poems hold up under the burden of time. Suffice it to say that though I no longer liked all of the poems in this collection, I still felt that all of them had some merit which made them worth retaining. So, without more stuff and nonsense about it, here they are for your–I hope–reading pleasure. Someday, I hope to write poetry again, and I hope to get to it long before I have to call the volume Old Age!