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The Writing: What are your completion rituals?

Hi everyone,

Teaching this year has given me the gift and insight of how pivotal writing communities are for the uncertainty of our lives. The Writing is not going anywhere, but it is going to be smaller: a place for those of you who most want conversation and community wherever you are in the world. I hope you’ll join us for this next act of this community.

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Rituals have always been a way for me to begin. However, I find that they are crucial, too, in marking time and marking our lives. These little habits of time seem even more relevant now when “big” celebrations don’t seem possible. How do you remember what you’ve done? How do you remember how far you’ve come?

Today’s question: What are your completion rituals?

As usual, I’ll be here for the next 45 minutes!

Image: “Cake dish,” unknown artist, Japan (1865). Faience covered with a greenish glaze showing streaks of blue (Takatori ware). A ceramic dish photographed in black and white, its platform rising overhead in a twisted handle that might remind one of a Möbius strip.

My writing rituals are built into the way I write and perhaps traced with my own past as a book designer. One of the first things I do when I “finish” a version of a poem is put it in a collection in Scrivener and promptly forget about it. Over time, I can see the number of pieces rise, which is rather pleasing.

When it’s time for me to make a manuscript, I start porting my poems out of the various nooks and crannies they end up in and typeset them as though they would be in a book. I use a new typeface for each book—my first book was in Walbaum and my second is in Electra. When I’ve completed one version, I print them out, collect them in these ridiculous but pleasing brass binder clips I have, and abandon the stack somewhere in my office for weeks or even months, until I’ve “forgotten” about it enough to edit it. I repeat this process until I read the manuscript cover-to-cover without wanting to mark it up.

Due to my Aries sun / Cap moon combo, I actually find it hard to relax and stop working because I always have another thing I’m working on, so I do a lot of maintenance self-care through baking while I work throughout the day (anything I can “forget” about), sitting in front my sun lamp, and reading a far distance from any personal electronic devices.