Be my Guest, Mary-Jo Lord
For each of my GUEST BLOGGERS I have asked only one question. I invite each guest to share an article, photos and whatever else is on their mind that they want to share.
Each of my guests is a talented professional in their own field. I want to know what they are thinking about & want to share with others through this blog.
My QUESTION is:
What is on YOUR mind?
Just Pick It Up and Get On with It
By Mary-Jo Lord
When I’m looking for the right words, sometimes I find them when I stop looking and move on to something else. This morning, I’m doing my Saturday chores and listening to a “Books and Arts” podcast from ABC Radio National in Australia. The poet Simon Armitage is discussing his translation of the anonymously written, Middle English poem, Pearl. The interviewer asks him what the pleasure is for him in working on translations. His response made me pause as the words I’d been searching for filled my ears. He said, “All poets know that you can’t write poetry all the time. You can’t exist at that pitch. You can’t attend with that level of concentration. But to be able to work on a translation where a lot of the anxieties of writing your own work are taken away, you don’t have to worry about how to begin it, or how to end it or what to put in the middle. That’s all laid out, so whether you are in the mood or not, you can just pick it up and get on with it.” I can’t think of a better way to express why I enjoy editing.
For two-and-a-half years, I’ve been the coordinating editor of Magnets and Ladders: Active Voices of Writers with Disabilities. Before I became the coordinating Editor of Magnets and Ladders, I would have never imagined myself as an editor. I was a writer with a family, a full-time job not related to writing, and had long bouts of writers’ block. When Marilyn Brandt Smith, the first Coordinating Editor of Magnets and Ladders emailed me to enquire if I might be interested in being a candidate for the position of Coordinating Editor of the magazine, I was finger-tied and speechless. After a few phone conversations and a lot of thought, I knew that editing Magnets and Ladders would be an opportunity to stretch my grammatical muscles, bond with my inner geek, and collaborate with and support other writers.
Editing has changed the way I write. For better or worse, I go back often and check my work as I write. It helps if I’m stuck and can’t move on from where I’m at in a piece. It also saves editing time at the end. Sometimes, I need to remind myself to just write and edit later. I remember wondering how I’d fit editing a literary magazine into an already busy schedule. I asked myself when I would find time to write. Looking back, I think I’ve written more in the past two-and-a-half years than I did in the years before I began editing Magnets and Ladders. I find myself questioning the placement of punctuation in every sentence. Should there be a comma there? Would this be better broken into two sentences or would a semicolon work? When I’m asking myself these questions, should I use quotation marks? No, I shouldn’t, unless I’m speaking out loud.
I expected that as my copyediting skills developed, I’d frequently question and second guess myself. I didn’t expect the feeling of expectation when I opened my email, the joy that comes with the delivery of every submission or the brief sense of disappointment when no new submissions arrive. I wasn’t prepared for the powerful sense of collaboration that happens when I’m working with an author to add some finishing touches to a piece. I didn’t realize the extent that some poems or stories, whether or not they made it in the magazine would stay with me for days, weeks, or forever. When I feel so full of energy and excitement that I could burst, because I’ve thought of the name for a section or the perfect spot to place a poem, I know this is what I am meant to do. Nothing could have prepared me for that. I thought that over time, the pride and joy that accompanies the release of each new edition would diminish, but it has not.
At the end of many days, the minutiae of life leaves me zapped of energy, and feeling as if I’ll never have another creative thought again. At these times, or when my work is frequently interrupted, I can edit. I can as Simon Armitage said, “Pick it up and get on with it.”
To listen To Simon Armitage‘s interview on ” Books and Arts” go to: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/simon-armitage/7512190
To read the current and past issues of Magnets and Ladders, please visit: http://www.magnetsandladders.org
Mary-Jo Lord writes poetry, fiction, and memoirs.
A section of her work is published in a Plain View Press anthology called Almost Touching.
Her work can also be found in Behind Our Eyes, Behind Our Eyes: a Second Look and in Magnets and Ladders.
Mary-Jo is the Coordinating Editor of Magnets and Ladders. She has a masters’ degree in counseling from Oakland University and has worked at Oakland Community College for Twenty-four years. Mary-Jo lives with her husband and son in Rochester, Michigan. She has been blind since birth.
This Guest Blog is courtesy of Lynda McKinney Lambert.
Story and Photos are supplied by the guest for each featured article.
Lynda’s 2 blogs: