A 9-17-9 Challenge

Annika of Annika Perry’s Writing Blog  nominated my for the 777 Challenge.  The idea is to go to page 7 of your work in progress, the scroll to line 7 and share the next 7 lines on your blog.

Interesting.  I’d be happy to share some my work in progress, but there is a problem.  Well, more than one problem.  Most of what I’ve been writing lately is about two pages long so no page 7s.  My poetry book has 74 pages, but page 7 only has three lines, no line 7 to share.  My novel is a mess and it’s difficult to find anything in that folder of notes that would even pass for work in progress writing.  Seriously, most of it is research, random notes and a few pages of things I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote them.  There is a written set of notes, but page 7 of that is just a list of character names.  I do have a first chapter and a prolog going that I wrote maybe ten years ago and since I had to read through myself to remember what they said, I don’t consider that work in progress.

So what to do?  First, I’d like to thank Annika for recognizing me with this challenge.  I am honored that my blog writing made her think that I had some secret stash of interesting, yet undiscovered longer work somewhere on my computer.  I’ve been checking and for reasons I can’t explain, I seem to avoid writing a page 7.  I am sure that there is some numerological significance, but what it might be, escapes me at the moment.

Since 777 isn’t working for me, I’ve decided to go with a different challenge.  I do want to share some fragment of a poem so I started checking other page combinations.

I rejected the idea of a 666 challenge as being too symbolically weird, and 222, 333, 444 and 555 of my poetry book were so short that they didn’t make sense, so I’ll skip those.  Page 8 didn’t have any poetry, but page 9 did.  Unfortunately, the poem doesn’t start until line 18 as I mix prose and poetry in the early section of the book.

Well, all is not lost.  18 is a multiple of 9, so that’s kind of okay, but poem is only 8 lines.  Not okay.  Turns out that line 17 kind of introduces the poem so that brings the line count back to 9.  That makes the challenge a page 9, line 17 (9 x 2 -1), length of 9 or a 9-17-9 challenge.  Are you ready for this?  Here are 9 lines starting at page 9, line 17 of my yet to be named book of poetry about cancer:

My world started spinning differently that day; and now three years from that month:

I sing new songs.
I tell stories differently.
I cry for the loss.
I embrace the poetic.

As none but verse lets me tell either my or mother’s tale without
tears for the dead,
tears for the loss,
fear for the unknowable future.

The last part of the challenge is to nominate seven other bloggers for this challenge.  We’d be here until November if I tried to do that.  Who knows what kind of rules my mind would come up with for that selection.  Instead, if you are intrigued by the idea of sharing some lines of your work in progress, please nominate yourself and post your challenge.  Please leave a link in the comments to your work and I’ll ‘officially’ nominate you.  I’ll mention the first 7 or 14 in a future blog post.

I’ve had a few folks asking about the progress of my poetry book project.  For those who don’t know, the poetry collection I’ve written is in response to my prostate cancer and to my mother’s death due to pancreatic cancer in 2007.  Currently I am in the editing phase.  This is likely the most difficult part of the project.  It’s where we writers get hit full force with self-doubt and lack of self-worth.  This is the phase where many manuscripts get burnt, shredded, deleted or otherwise obliterated from the planet.  To date, I’ve managed to avoid that and have been pressing on with the hope that one person might find it enlightening.

I’ve had three people read and edit the book.  Heather has been through it twice for me, along with two trusted friends.  I am thankful to have received detail edits, corrections and comments on the work.  After incorporating much of this feedback into the manuscript, I’ve come to the place in my mind where the book is done.

It’s lost it’s energy for creation and now is telling me that it needs to leave my desk for the bigger world.  Yes, my books talk to me.

Looking at my options for publishing this work, I’ve decided on self-publishing it through Amazon’s Create Space for a physical book and electronically on Kindle.  Since I believe that poetry is often at its best when spoken, I’ve been looking into creating an audio book through Audible.  Turns out there is a way for me to record myself reading the book and self-publishing it.  I find the possibility of all three formats interesting.

I am under no delusions about sales.  Poetry doesn’t sell, but this is a work I feel I need to have out there. The purpose of this work has never been sales, but rather it’s one way I can tell a story that is important to me.

I have no real idea how long all that is going to take.  Likely, longer than I want.

Till next week,

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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28 Responses to A 9-17-9 Challenge

  1. Great work! Good for you for trying even though you had several obstacles before starting!


  2. Glynis Jolly says:

    I don’t do the challenges or the nominations for ‘awards’ anymore. It was all fun at one time but now I find it tedious.

    Even though poetry books don’t sell like proses do, I’ve been known to buy them as birthday presents for people I care about. Get it published, Andrew. 😉


    • I don’t do tedious. I’ll pick up a challenge that I think is fun or that I can turn into a fun post. I don’t really participate in the blog awards, but I always acknowledge when I’ve been nominated by someone. It’s flattering that someone would think of me and this little blog and I try to honor the spirit of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. JoHanna Massey says:

    Andrew..I think the Audible Book is quite exceptional. Absolutely the best venue for your poetry. Definitely stretching your creativity into a new direction. Whatever your decision, looking forward to it. And your poem today was just stellar.


  4. Ah, you are creative, Andrew. Love that part of you. I appreciate the update on your writing. I’m considering CreateSpace, but I think the paperback price ends up too high if I want to make any money on it. What do you think?


    • Thanks for you kind words. If I was trying to make a lot of money on the project, I likely would make other decisions. I considered two other choices, a local book publisher/printer and Smash Words. Since I only hope to make my costs back, the price wasn’t an issue. Still I’ve not locked myself in, so I might change at some point.


      • I’m with you on that. From what I saw, though, authors couldn’t even price their books at the normal price–they were pushed up because of the share required to give to CreateSpace. I think as long as you can price the book at the norm, all is good.


        • My other consideration was that, it’s possible I’ll sell more e-books than physical so making money on the printed side hasn’t play heavily into the equation yet. Likely, physical books will be just what I had out at reading events and the like. There is a local printer who would give me a better price on a paper back, but I’d have to buy 100 to 200 to get a good price. Sadly, I don’t have the confidence yet that I could sell that many paper backs.


  5. jfwknifton says:

    Your nine lines are really, really good. And of course, you do need to have your poems out there, doing what is obviously important for you. But I don’t think you can’t hurry such emotional stuff. Take your time and be happy with the end product.


    • It’s taken a year to get to this point and likely another three to four months before the next step is complete. Still, the work has some urgency in my heart so I have to respect that.


  6. While I cannot see the value of these challenges, I admit I tried 777 ‘just for fun’ on my next novel, which is, by the sound of it, in a state not dissimilar to your poetry book. The result was quite dynamic! 9-17-9? Well, I’d have to do some thinking on that one. Nice poem though (I lost my apostrophes at a very early age).


  7. Mirja says:

    I have to agree with Annika, your post has me both chuckling and tearful. Your math is so funny and there is always a way to a solution.
    I feel for your loss and love the poem, from experience I know the depth of the sorrow.
    Glad you find solace in writing.
    I am not a blogger but yet a follower so I don’t think I qualify to send in one of my poems-
    even if I could work out the mathematical formula.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Annika Perry says:

    Andrew, I loved this post. It had me swinging in my emotions, gently chuckling at your new take on the challenge – absolutely brilliantly explained. Great idea to invite others to partake and I hope their are some who will take up this challenge,it’s always interesting to re read and to share your work. The poem itself brought tears to my eyes, felt your journey, your loss through those few words. So sorry for your loss and warmest wishes.


  9. lifelessons says:

    It is neither a contraction nor a possessive.


    • That cracks me up. It’s a common mistake I make and not one of us saw it. Reason number 34 why I’ve hired a professional copy editor. Thanks for pointing that out BEFORE publication. 😉


      • lifelessons says:

        My common mistake is “it’s\its” errors. I know the difference, just absolutely overlook it. I have a friend who loves finding those errant apostrophes and feels put upon if I find them before he does. Really ironic because apostrophe errors are my pet peeve, yet it is the one punctuation error I constantly make. Only with it’s /its, though, so luckily I caught yours. The very last error I found in my last book was the spelling of mantel. Thirteen editors –all English teachers, writers or avid readers, and one professional editor–had missed that the mantel on a fireplace is spelled differently than the mantle that is a cloak. Hope you catch all the errata…Judy

        Liked by 1 person

  10. lifelessons says:

    Andrew, I see an error in the lines of the poem you quoted. Ordinarily I would never tell anyone about an error in their blog, but since you have had two editors and it looks like this poem will be in your book, would you like to know about it?


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