Rocking-Chair Moon

By the time an idea becomes a story, and if you’re lucky, a book, it’s likely gone through a number of transformations. And the transformations don’t happen overnight. They may take years of false starts and trials and errors and deletions and additions, of brainstorming and brain-farting, of hand-clapping and hand-wringing and hand-holding, of critique and praise and understanding and misunderstanding and bafflement, of acceptance and rejection.

To varying degrees, it’s been that way with all of my stories. None has traveled a straight and certain path from the first two- or three-line sentence to publication. But none has seen more in the way of false starts and convoluted pathways than a story I call Rocking-Chair Moon. I “started” it thirteen years ago, when I wrote a poem for my daughter Jaime’s high school yearbook. At the time, I didn’t see it as the beginning of something bigger, and when I wrote another poem for my son Jeff’s yearbook a year later, I considered that a standalone also.

The poems, or at least the spirit of the poems, stuck with me, though, and years later I began thinking about writing a coming-of-age story about two siblings and doing it as a series of poems. The story wouldn’t follow my kids’ lives, it would be two entirely different siblings with different stories, but at some point, I’d be able to plug in revised versions of the original poems. The rest would flow out of my imagination. Well, not flow, exactly, more like ooze. Or stagger.

I didn’t think (much) about the marketing realities of doing this kind of project. I had other things I was working on, and I knew novels in verse had been successful previously, so I didn’t worry about it. But when I finally decided to document these two fictitious kids’ lives from early elementary school all the way into their twenties, I kind of realized I was moving into uncharted territory and there might not be a neat fit with anything a publisher would have in mind for an actual book. I mean, who might the audience be? In what niche at a publishing house could a story like this belong? What publishing house would it even go to?

But I plodded on. In between other projects, I imagined the story and wrote poems to bring it to life. I showed it to other writers and got feedback. Readers liked it but noted the difficulty of selling something like this. It’s not a young kids book. It’s not middle grade. It’s maybe young adult, but you’re going past the teen years and that isn’t done with YA. New adult? Nah. Too much focus on the younger years, not enough romance. With all that in mind, I went on. I revised, cut, added, reshaped, reordered.

I sent it out to agents and editors. Not a bunch of them, but enough to let me know that my (and others’) reservations were well-founded. They didn’t know how to sell it or publish it. So, I pretty much shelved it a couple of years ago and got on with other stuff.

I still have hopes for it, though, and I’d like to have people read it, one way or another. So, what I’m going to do, at least for now, is let readers read it in small doses, one poem at a time, on my website and Facebook. A serial format, you could say.

You might decide that you’re a reader who doesn’t care about categories or niches—you just want to read a story about a couple of kids making their way through life. You might decide you want to ride along with them as they experience the fun, the difficult, the heartwarming, the heartbreaking.

Eventually, it’s going to get published, even if I have to go the self-published route, which isn’t a bad option. But for now, it’s gonna be small-batch time. We’ll get started soon, probably this week (the week of July 23rd). I’ll try to get a poem a day up for you, and if they’re short, maybe several. And if I miss a day or two, I’ll double up the next time I post.


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