Thanks for joining me this week for a guest post by Boston area writer Theresa Milstein. Her collection of poetry and prose vignettes is currently available for preorder (see the links below). Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a prize during her blog tour. I’ve asked her to talk a little about how Time & Circumstance came to be.
I didn’t set out to write a collection of poetry and prose. For years, I’d concentrated on writing middle grade and YA manuscripts. Then I started writing short stories to gain experience and maybe earn a few publishing credits along the way. Around that time, I also took a series of poetry workshops. When Vine Leaves Literary Journal began in 2012 to give a platform for the vignette, the first question I asked was, “What’s a vignette?” Unlike a story, which has a beginning, middle, and end, a vignette is “a brief evocative description, account, or episode.” (Google)
Once I learned and practiced writing vignettes, I started submitting to Vine Leaves Literary Journal. They rejected several pieces, but they accepted one prose piece and one poem. Even though I rarely submitted my vignettes anywhere after that, I continued to write them and sometimes share them on my blog. I used to regularly post in response to a blog that is no longer active, “Magpie Tales,” which posted photos as inspiration. I wrote many poems as a creative outlet and also for a YA verse novel hybrid manuscript, and didn’t have any other grand plans for them.
At some point, I sent the editor Jessica Bell a few poems for a project she was considering putting together. The project fell through. Jessica was concentrating more energy on expanding Vine Leaves Press. She asked if I had enough pieces to make a collection. I knew I didn’t have enough poems, so I asked if I could include prose too. She said yes. I sat on the idea for months. One day, I put all my vignettes in one document. I asked myself a few hard questions: Were these any good? Did they have any coherence? Was I brave enough to take a chance and submit them?
When I could finally say yes to all three questions, I submitted the document. A few more months later Vine Leaves Press accepted them.
Since vignettes can be both prose and poetry, I’ve played around with both forms. It’s hard to pinpoint when I determine if something will be a poem or prose. Most often, I turn to poetry. A line will pop in my head. If it’s lyrical and I can imagine the next line below, I write a poem. But my poems tend to have short lines and few stanzas. When I want to explore a subject in a larger space, I write prose. I’d say I’m more confident writing prose—I have more experience writing full-length manuscripts, and my prose vignettes tend to have more poignant subject matter. During the editing process, Vine Leaves suggested that a few poems become prose-poems, so I even have a hybrid of the two forms!
Theresa Milstein writes middle grade and YA, but poetry is her secret passion. Her vignette collection, TIME & CIRCUMSTANCE, will be published by Vine Leaves Press on March 21, 2017. She lives near Boston Massachusetts with her husband, two children, a dog-like cat, and a cat-like dog. For her day job, she works as a special education teacher in a public school, which gives her ample opportunity to observe teens and tweens in their natural habitat.
TIME & CIRCUMSTANCE is available for preorder
Leave a comment and you’re eligible to win a prize during my blog tour!
1 $25 Amazon gift card 1 signed paperback copy 1 ebook
Answer the question: “If you could relive any moment in time, what would it be?”
Winners will be announced on April 5, 2017