Monday, January 28, 2008

Mini-Rant (probably AWP stress induced, probably best to skip)

I'm a little frustrated right now. See, I don't mind people asking for favors -- and if I can help somebody out, I like to try. In fact, I think I do more than my fair share of favors.

But sometimes people forget what they're asking is a favor -- not a gimme. If I can't do the favor, it's likely not because I don't want to or don't like you or think I'm too good to be bothered -- it's the same reason most people have -- I have a lot of things to do. I'm not special in this regard, lots of people have numerous responsibilities and can't do everything they're asked. If you're not one of those people, you're incredibly fortunate and yay for you. But if I tell you I can't read your manuscript or need (much) more time that two weeks to blurb your book or write a review or help you on a project you're really psyched about, I'm not being a dick. The worst thing you can reply back is "but it'll only take a few hours." Only a few hours? Oh, well let me just clear off my desk and put your favor at the top of the queue. I'll just do that before I respond to past-due No Tell subs, layout the online galleys, layout the next No Tell title, address and mail out the next round of review copies and the hundred other time-deadline items I have on my to-do list. I'll hand Gideon a pack of cigarettes for him to pass the time.

You don't know what's going on in my life -- that's fine, there's no reason you should. I haven't a clue what's really going on in your life. But why assume that I or anyone for that matter has unlimited time to devote to a favor? Yes, even a teeny one. It's totally cool to ask, and I often do "come through," but if I tell you no -- I'm doing you the favor of letting you know up front that I can't do it. Isn't that better than saying Oh yeah, sure and totally flaking out? I try to be responsible. I consider it irresponsible to agree to do something if I know from the start there's no way. I don't consider sacrificing the time I need for family or my own personal well being to be any kind option at all. Nobody should.

And if you really must pry, I can't do it because running an online magazine takes a lot of time, running a micropress takes even more, I have a young son who, like all children, both demands and deserves a great deal of my time and on any given month my husband is on travel 25-75% of the time, during which I'm a lot like a single mother (except I can't date) -- and my babysitter is in Pakistan for a month -- and guess what, I'm a poet too and I um, need time to write as well. Yeah, sometimes people forget that naughty girls need writing-time too. Just a couple hours is often more time than I can manage to find to write over the span of several weeks.

It's always the people who don't edit magazines, publish books, write reviews, run a reading series or do very much of anything for other poets who are the ones assuring me how their favor won't take too long and how it'll be no trouble for me at all.

Geez, I make time to blog and travel and shop and eat and go to the bathroom and brush my teeth, I must not be that busy. Fine, I'm a total dick cause I take breaks, recharge and treat myself to nice things ahead of your favor.

Favors get put in the queue along with all the other tasks. Everything gets pushed aside, neglected, ignored for family matters. Like I said before, as a busy mom, I don't have the luxury of dying for poetry. I'm also much too pretty to risk baldness and toothlessness from stress and overwork. Sorry, not gonna.

4 Comments:

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Didi Menendez said...

Yes and what else is new? I am going to be making some major changes in 2009 with the magazine because of a similar reason....

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger shanna said...

Yup.

 
At 11:13 PM, Blogger DeadMule said...

People will kill you, if you let them. Don't.

 
At 8:17 AM, Blogger Jennifer Bartlett said...

Reb,

Can you come fold Jeff's laundry? I need help! Love, jen

 

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