When Did This Happen? Melanie Whithaus


Enigma

I’ve noticed that I tend to write a lot about the future when it comes t o these blog posts. What I’m going to do with my life in ten years from now, or even what I’m doing in one year from now. Or even what I plan on doing tomorrow. But the one thing that I never thought would happen within a year from now, or especially in a week from Saturday, is my own book signing.

When Robin first mentioned the idea of me having my own book signing, I didn’t understand. I thought she meant that I was running another book signing, like the launch of PAWS, but no. It wasn’t until the second time she mentioned it that I realized she was talking about my own book. She laughed at my face of complete and utter shock, let alone confusion. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would get a book signing for a “silly” chapbook. I don’t even have my own ISBN, and here I am preparing for my own book signing. I have so many friends and family who are asking me for copies of these handmade books. It’s quite liberating. I never thought this simple idea of throwing a chapbook together would lead to this.

I first created a chapbook in my Small Press Publishing class. Our final project was to make a chapbook. Without that class, I never thought making this book would be possible. After my first internship working with SEMO’s small press and taking various classes, I knew I was ready to make my own book, but of course with no inclination that it would lead to this.

Many of the poems in the book are ones that I wrote back in high school. At the time, I was overwhelmed with inspiration. I wrote nearly every day and I never felt the need to go back and edit. I was told that I was a decent writer throughout the years, and the poems in “Enigma” are many of the best I wrote during that time period of my life. There are two published pieces in “Enigma”, the poems “Bluebirds” and “Undertaker”. Both were published with Scapegoat Review back in December of 2012, and ironically unlike the rest of the book, they were written after high school. “Bluebirds” is about an abusive family and the effects it has on each member, while “Undertaker” is about love consuming a person much like death can. “Undertaker” was originally a prose poem I wrote for class. I remember my friend reading it out loud and thinking to myself: “Wow, I write some strange things.” The overall themes of “Enigma” are sex, love, and death, and how the three are connected to one another. According to me, they all influence each other equally and I think that my poems can do the rest of the explaining.

But before I sign off, I just wanted to give a big thanks to Robin for giving me this opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed working with her this summer and this internship has given me some of the best experiences to look forward to in my own publishing career.

My book signing of “Enigma” will be on August 3rd at 1:00PM at All on the Same Page Bookstore in Creve Coeur, MO. Hope to see you there!

Friday Intern Post – Rachel Gorin


I love to read. I remember the first time I actually, really, considered myself to be able to read. I was sitting on the couch and my mom and brother were sitting on the floor – she was helping both of us, going back and forth, and we each had a book in our hands. I remember the feeling I had, the happiness and pride that I felt from my belly all the way to my face – I must have had the biggest smile. And I can’t remember ever not liking to read (for all of you grammar sticklers, I know I shouldn’t be using a double negative like that, but I can’t think of a better way to say it). Really. There are very few books I have neglected to finish. There have been many days throughout the summers of my childhood that I spent curled up with a book. I remember the summer after third grade, I counted how many books I read – it was something like 30 or 40. And I would bring a book to school. I would read every free second I had (although sometimes I ended up talking to a friend). I would stay up at night reading if I was in the middle of a book I just couldn’t put down. I had to make myself go to sleep.

This continued until the middle or later years of high school. I still loved to read and loved books in general. My English classes were still consistently my favorite classes. But I struggled with getting back into reading for fun. Unless there was a new book that had just come out from one of my favorite authors, it took a while for me to be able to bring myself to pick up a book, just as an activity for leisure time. As I’ve moved into college, it’s become even harder. Why?  Why would a book lover like me have such a hard time reading for fun?

School. That’s why. I would get so burnt out from reading for school. It didn’t matter if they were good textbooks, bad textbooks, good classes, bad classes, whatever. I just got so sick of reading. I can’t even really explain it. I still liked reading for my English classes. That was fun homework, to me. I even took an English class over the summer one time, and I absolutely loved it. That was probably one of the most interesting English classes I’ve ever taken, and I wanted to take it, because it was something I liked to do, and a school credit that could go towards whatever I decided on doing as far as declaring a major or deciding on a career, whenever or whatever that might be. But spending hours on end pouring over whatever reading I had for my classes was exhausting. I have piles of books sitting in my room that I want to read but haven’t. Because I want to read them – I got them for a reason, after all. I just don’t.

School should not be like that. School should be a good learning experience. School should not make something that is usually enjoyable somehow not enjoyable anymore. There are many reasons I think these things are the way they are – that school sometimes takes away the fun in things, or that so many people get burnt out from school, or that school is not always a good learning experience – reasons that I’m not going to describe in detail right now. And although I have trouble getting back into reading for fun, I still consider myself to like reading. When people ask, or when I have to fill out things that want a list of hobbies or a list of likes, I say that I love to read. That’s because I still do. Once I manage to pick up a book, and it’s good, and I get into it, then I remember why I loved reading so much and I fall in love with it all over again.

There are many ways I can take these thoughts. I can talk about why or how schools and the whole schooling system should change. I can talk about how people change over time and how things people used to like, they just don’t like the same way anymore, if at all. I can talk about my life experiences, and how I’ve changed personally, and how this affects my activities, thoughts, and feelings. But I’m going to go another direction.

I want to say that people should keep doing what they love. All of you, reading this – keep it up!  There is a reason you loved whatever it is once, and you might love it again. You might just need an extra push. But I say treasure the things that make you happy, the little moments and little things that bring a smile to your face or laughter to your lips. And if those things don’t do that for you anymore, find something that will.

Some people, if they start off liking to read, they might always like to read. Or people who don’t like to read will never like to read. I say – to express the sentiment of something I saw the other day – that, if you don’t like reading, then you’re not doing it right. So true. If you’re interested in something, I promise you, there is a book about it. And if there’s a book about it, no matter how much you might hate to read, you will find it interesting, and it will be worth the trouble.

I go through phases with reading. And I might have trouble picking up a book because of school. But I will always love it, no matter what. There are so many reasons why I love it. I could not possibly lose all of those reasons. School won’t trump that. And I recommend and encourage everyone to read. There are so many incredible benefits. There aren’t too many things by which I’d rather be surrounded than books. I hope and wish that everyone will find something to read that will make them smile or laugh, that will give them one of those moments.

The purpose of this isn’t to complain about school or to say that reading is horrible. It’s to say that I miss it so terribly much. I long for the time that it was this super easy and fun thing for me. This is to encourage people to continue reading, or to find something that’s fun to read, or even just to find something that brings people those moments that reading brought – and sometimes still, although less often – brings to me.