Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 15, 2009

A Rose is a Rose, a Timeline is a Timeline… or Not

While preparing my collection of poems about three mothers and their daughters for copy editing, my editor sent an email suggesting that rather than three separate timelines, we use one big timeline, and she sent a mockup. The idea sounded good in theory; part of the book’s premise is to show both how different and parallel the lives were during a historical period. But the timeline just didn’t look good in my eyes, and, trying to sleep that night, I realized why. The tiny accounts of major events looked too thin when put together. Old sentences rubbed against new ones, which made everything look slightly different. Each event needed a bit more bulk or texture to hold its own when more were put together.

So I spent the day revising the timeline. The dates stayed the same, of course, but I worked on new wording to show slightly more distinctions, without adding too many words – it is just a timeline! Now I’m happy, and I’ll probably never read a timeline quite the same way.

Maybe this is a new level of nerdiness, but I get to exist in a bigger world as the lovely Kerry Madden, mountainmist who can break your heart in two with her novels, blog entries, or essays, honored me with the Premio Dardos Award. This award acknowledges blogs that have cultural, ethical, literary and personal values. Which would describe about everyone’s blog I read, but hey, thanks, Kerry!

And tomorrow I’m looking forward to revising something without a date in every sentence.



  1. You totally deserved that award.
    And you are right to have spent time making the timeline something you can work with. Otherwise, it’s not a useful tool at all!

  2. Yes, thank you re award and timeline. If we’re not going to be finicky and fussy and driven, what’s it all about?

  3. I don’t mean to sound like Mr. Spock, but what you say about timelines is simply fascinating. I’m not sure I’ll look at timelines the same way either.

  4. Oh, my husband will be delighted to know I have a friend who sounds like Mr. Spock! I think he’d find that more fascinating than timelines, but I’m glad you were interested!

  5. If we can’t be nerdy on our blogs, then what’s the point?! 🙂 Congrats on getting the award and thank you, again, for passing it on.
    So glad the timelines coming together. I think it’s a very cool idea to mix poetry & a timeline!

  6. In our house, nerdiness is a compliment (well, my daughter might beg to differ — but our house at the moment!)
    And thanks re mixing poetry and timelines! Now I’m heading back to the Arctic….(in revision, though it is minus ten here in Mass., so…)

  7. Hooray on the well-deserved award!
    I’m so happy to hear the next book is about mothers and daughters. I’m also fascinated by your timeline revisions — I’ll be taking a much closer look at the next timeline I see.

  8. Timeline revision was a new one for me! I’d just read the rather plump one in the collected letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell — plump made sense since the letters, of course, skip. And I love the one in Jen Bryan’s biog of William Carlos Williams, River of Words, stunningly illustrated by Melissa Sweet. You get her collages and three strands: the general life, the creation of poems, and events in the world.

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