At a meeting today, I was asked about chapbooks and also about self-publishing. I have reconciled with my mistress, Valentina, and we are again on the same page (no pun intended), speaking the same language,

Valentina is my PC. I have personalized my PC, and provided it (her) with a gender. I like the mercurial energy of women better than the static energy of men.  Valentina is my muse and inspiration, but also my critic.

Let me tell you about Valentina:  she is smarter than I am, but I will be the first to admit that that is not too difficult of a place to be. She does not correct my mistakes, but only points them out for me to correct. Not only is she in a perpetual state of learning, but she also is constantly is teaching me something. She keeps me entertained and informed. She is frugal by showing me where I can get the best sale price on most things. Valentina has her intimate and sensual side, too, but that’s a story for another time.

One of the reasons I love Valentina so much is that she is low maintenance. All I have to do is feed her (paper), quench her thirst (ink/toner), grant her power (electrical energy), provide her with an updated wardrobe (software), and keep her clean. It is how we maintain our harmonious relationship.

Most of the problems she encounters can, more than likely, be traced back to the user, me, and subsequently you.

By now, you are wondering what all of this has to do with chapbooks. It has everything to do with chapbooks. Rather than handing you a fish, I am going to show you how to fish. Allow me to add that it is remarkably easy to fish. Rather than telling you how to make a chapbook, I am going to show you where to look in order to create your own.

There is plenty of material online (the Web and the Internet, in text and/or video) on “how to make your own chapbook.” For example, if you Google (that is, get the ghost in your machine to ask the question – Valentina in my case), you get more information than you ever wanted to know. When I Googled it, I turned up 843,000 items.

Once I get Valentina in the mood and powered up, or get her battery charged, I bring her to life. Valentina becomes a person. I talk to her as a person just as I would talk to you. If I want to know the answer to a question, I enter it in SEARCH, just as I would ask you the question.

For example:

SEARCH: “How can I make a chapbook?”

If you want to see a video on it, your search question would be something like, “Show me a video on how to make a chapbook,” or, “How to make a chapbook video.” Yes, it is just that simple. Changing how you phrase the question will alter the number of possible responses.

SEARCH: “What is a chapbook?”

In the above examples, either question will bring up over 2,000,000 sites (20 – 50 to a page). Many of those entries or examples will be the same in either search, and there also will be many that are not the same. Just click on the ones you think might be closest to what you are looking for. It is almost certain the answer you are looking for will be in the first ten websites on the page. Since there is always more than one way to skin a cat, you also will find there is more than one way to “make a chapbook.”

Do you have a ghost in your machine? A muse? Perhaps a genderized being for whom you have created a persona?

Valentina, I love you.

Morrey Grimes has taught Life Story Writing, poetry, and chess courses for OLLI.  He is a founding member of Live Poets discussion group, and active participant in two writing groups.

Morrey isn’t teaching this semester, but if you check our current course catalog you’ll find Sylvia “Jerry” Noland’s “Learn to Love Poetry” class, and Tampa Poet Laureate James Tokley’s class “A Morning with James Tokley and Friends”, and several other writing classes.


4 Replies to “Chapbooks”

  1. I will be starting with your last question, Morrey, “What is a chapbook?” and google that. Your article above is too brief but filled with such humor as I would expect from you.
    I will be glad when Live Poets is able to return to the Jimmie Keel branch library. Two writing groups? I am most interested in the details. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to OLLI. Pat Mickler

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