The fall of 2007 was rough. My longstanding comic project, Shayara, had fallen apart – the artist backed out for the last time. I’d been focusing my creative energies so long on Shayara, and I didn’t know what to do.
So I posted asking for writing prompts, and decided to write flash fiction every day in November. 30 shards of story in 30 days; 30 different worlds. Stretching my brain.
Yes, this was madness. I do mad things.
I was flooded with prompts, and with sponsorships (early in this process, my cat got sick and required tests and surgery (he’s fine now). I’d promised to use every sponsored prompt. One of those, from my friend Emily (an avid knitter and fiber freak), was “wool and silk and wood”.
I had no idea what to do with this. But I had to use it! So I let it sit in the back of my head until it was ready, and one day, in the shower, the Grandmother started talking to me.
She was angry and sad and bitter, and she loved fiercely – loved her grandsons, loved her ways. And she was left out of the tales that prizes questing and adventure. She was a quieter wonder.
And she was spilling out of me in… poetry.
Understand, I had not written poetry since I was a teenager. Yes, I have the obligatory folders stuffed with trite teenage angsty poetry. But I have never in my life considered myself a poet. (Says the girl who’s now sold three more poems.)
But this was a poem. Undeniably.
And I looked at it, and I said, “You know? This doesn’t suck.” So I researched poetry markets and thought it’d be a good match for John Klima at Electric Velocipede. I wrote a rambly cover letter that was probably about as long as the poem itself and sent it off. My very first submission.
I was at the airport, stealing a last peek at my e-mail before my flight home for Christmas, when his acceptance came through. “Wow,” he said. Twice. And my daughter saw my face light up and hugged me before she even knew why I was glowing.
Waiting is brutal. But almost a year after I wrote it and he bought it, it appeared in Electric Velocipede #15/16. You can read it here.
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz of The Fix says “Lipkin’s poem stands out with its lyricism and the wonderful way in which we are reminded of the magic of everyday things. I love how Lipkin captures a grandmother’s yearning to keep her grandchild, even as she already accepts her own heartbreak at the grandchild’s obvious choice. Can anything be more speaking than this line? “There is alchemy right here, if only you would see it.””