Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing The Gloaming Limn (Part 2)

"Threads from all the other books in the series flow through the narrative...."

Formatting a poetry book is a unique challenge, and The Gloaming Limn was no different.  As I mentioned in my previous post, it was difficult enough to simply decide which poems made it into the book.  In the immediate aftermath of deciding which poems should be considered, I had upwards of 80 poems.  This was followed by the hard process of cutting poems, including ones that meant a lot to me and I would enjoy sharing with people.  Even so, I got my select group of poems and organized them into four sections, as I described in the last post.

When I format a book, I like to do it in pieces.  By pieces, I don't just mean so much doing each section separately.  Rather, each kind of page must be taken into account and prepared separately.  For example, each section break and section title page needs to be uniform.  This means paying attention to the precise font and size of text, as well as the exact number of spaces used, including alignment.  This is simple enough to accomplish on a title page, but with a poetry book, the formatting of the poems themselves is the real challenge.

The trouble with poems is that they tend to have a lot of line breaks.  As a result of this, there is a higher frequency of pages with only one or two lines on them, flowing over from the previous page.  Now, this can be solved by tweaking of font or spacing.  It's quite easy, really.  But then arises the problem that a particular poem might have a noticeably different format than all the others.  We can't have that.

So how did I resolve this?

Well, I broke my own rules.  I'm obsessive enough not to let (much) variety in font occur, but when it came to spacing, I really had to compromise.  Certain pages--I'll leave that up to the reader to figure out--have slightly different spacing than most of the others.  The key was to do this subtly and without making it obvious to the reader.  And after all, if the reader doesn't notice there's something peculiar going on, then there's no problem.  (Hence why the best solution for making horizontal lines in MS Word is so brilliant.)

And so there's not much more to say in terms of formatting.  After the book is formatted, it gets sent off to the printer, and assuming the printer doesn't mess things up, all is well.

However, probably my favorite part of putting this book together was when I received the artwork.  As usual, S. Joy Troester made some amazing art, painting a great cover.  Huge thanks to her for her high quality work on that.  And for those who don't get the point of the's a painting of a sunset.  A gloaming limn.  (Sorry, we had to.)  And then after we had the artwork finished, we sent it off to Felecia to have the lettering on the cover formatted.  Much thanks to her for doing a good job with that, as usual.

Here are some links to places where you can view their work:

S. Joy Troester's Artwork Page
S. Joy Troester's Blog
Felecia Buck's Blog

Again, much thanks to them for their work on The Gloaming Limn.

So there are some of the minor secrets involved with formatting and publishing my poetry book.  There's so much more that could be told, but it would likely get really boring.  If you have any questions about anything I mentioned or have not mentioned, please feel free to contact me, either through Second Man Publishing's facebook page, or through the Second Man Publishing website.

You can purchase a copy of The Gloaming Limn here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Writing The Gloaming Limn (Part 1)

"This is the green lift, this is the archer"

So why did I write The Gloaming Limn?  Why did I publish this book of poetry?  Well, to be honest, it was because a lot of people said I should.  They wanted to see all my poems placed into a single book and printed.  Eventually, I agreed with them and threw a bunch of my poems into a single text, had a cover made, and sent it to the printer.  Simple and easy enough.  But, because I very much like stories, it wasn't really that simple.

The Gloaming Limn is a book of individual poems, but together they tell a story.

Believe it or don't, "The Gloaming Limn" initially started out of my interest in unusual words.  'Gloaming' [gloh-ming] is an old, somewhat archaic word which simply means 'evening'--specifically 'dusk' or 'twilight'.  'Limn' [lim] is a word which means 'to describe'--it is often used as a term related to paintings or drawings, and how such art forms describe a scene.  Neat words on their own, but what really piqued my interest about them is how they don't appear to be from the class of words which they indeed are.  'Gloaming' sounds like a verb, but is actually a noun.  'Limn' sounds like a noun, but is actually a verb.  So I thought to myself, why not mash these two words together to make an unusual word mix with verb sounding nouns and noun sounding verbs with the verb as a noun and the noun as an adjective.  Or not?  I'm still not sure to this day exactly how to read 'The Gloaming Limn' as a phrase.  I do, however, know what it means.

I wondered, what would I say if I were asked to 'describe the evening'?  What does the evening remind me of?  And so a metaphor came to my mind.  What if we, as humans, live in a time which is quickly approaching the evening of this age?  And if we are, what does it mean?

So it gets me thinking.  In the evening of the day, in the last hours before sleep--in the evening of my life, in the last days before death--in the evening of this age, in the last years before the end, what would I tell people?  What would I say?

First, I realized, I would tell them how I see things right now--the way the world is at this moment.  And I wouldn't shy away from the bad and dark things.  Honestly, I would focus on those for a telling or two.  Because it's getting dark, and I want to understand how this darkness came to be.

Second, I would tell them stories of myself and the things that I've learned.  Both the sorrow and joy.  Both of the things that look good and are good, as well as the things that look good and are not.  At least, if nothing more, I can be honest with who I am.

And then last, I would tell them about hope.  I would share my hope with them, that there is something greater waiting for those who are willing to seek it and find it.  That even though things are getting dark and soon the terrible night will be upon us, this simply foretells the dawning of a new day.  And to say it plainly, that Yahshua the Messiah gave us this hope for a knew life.

Indeed, these are the themes running through The Gloaming Limn.  Sorrow, honesty, and hope.  Without these things, I think I would hardly feel alive at all.  And so with these things I wrote this wide series of poems over a couple years' time.  And so choosing which poems to place in the book should have been simple...but I didn't have this theme in mind, at least not so clearly, that whole time I was writing poems.

And so it is that there is a wide variety of poems I've written.  How could I have a theme, how could I organize a whole book, with such a wide variety?  Well, I began with making a list of poems that I deemed to be 'good enough' for the book.  The list turned out to contain about 80 poems.  That was way too many.  So I narrowed it down to the 'best' poems--that is, my favorites and the ones I knew were the favorites of other people.  That helped to narrow the list, but still it didn't feel very organized.

I then came up with the four sections of the book: Wintertime, Sisters, The Sabbath, and In Praise.  I realized that these were some of the strongest themes I had among the poems on the narrowed list.

Wintertime, as a section, are poems that tend to really focus on the idea of evening time.  It holds the first realizations that evening is quickly approaching and almost here.

Sisters is a section that, obviously, focuses on the females among us, but more than that the concerns of this world that weigh down all of us.  If those who we see as most lovely have concerns and troubles, then surely we all have troubles indeed.

The Sabbath is a section that just had to be in there.  People really enjoyed these poems when I first wrote them and shared them, so I had to include them in my poetry book.  Even so, I think this section is a turning point in the book.  It says, 'Yes, evening is coming and is even here, but there is still a rest and a comfort to look forward to.'  It has the inclination of hope, even during the darkness.

In Praise is also a section that needed to be included.  In fact, it may be the most important section.  It's a collection of poems that want to take things simply, to take things back to the heart of worship.  Yet, at the same time, it realizes that all of these words, everything I can possibly say, is insufficient to describe it all.  And that's okay.  Because no matter what, we have hope for the morning.  We have a confident expectation that no matter how long the night, we will again see the light.

So the book travels from evening into night, but ends on the precipice of stepping into morning.  And it has to end there, because it's impossible to really describe something we've not yet seen.  But the hope is there, and perhaps I'm leaving it up to the reader to decide what that next step is.

It's up to the reader to decide what it means.  We have what we have now.  And part of what we have is a choice.  A choice to choose death or life.  To choose the dark or the light.

And for now, my only suggestion is this: just remember that the light persists.

I plan on writing a second blog about the book, concerning more about the actual process of publishing and all that boring technical stuff, if anyone is interested.

For now, I'll leave you with a link to where you can purchase The Gloaming Limn.

Available in paperback on