If that sounds as if I didn't consciously set out to write "Betty's OS," the impression is correct; I didn't. Nevertheless, I can see reasons for doing it right now. Whether those were reasons I held unconsciously before, or ones I've come up with since to justify the effort, doesn't seem to matter.
First, I wanted to get writing again. I went into a creative slump after I quit smoking at the end of February (and also got busy with compiling April magazine) and wrote only one very short, quick poem ("Orbison") through March and April. The rigid format of a Bettywork makes it a good one for returning to writing, as it's relatively easy to write in it without worrying about how well one's doing (as there's really only one way to do it).
Second, I wanted there to be more to Betty than the one datum. People have been asking me about her, and I've had to think about those questions. There's no reason (except for the practical problem of finding a suitable list) not to write a "Betty" poem about every interesting fact about the character. Similarly, each list gives both the opportunity to introduce new words and word-combinations, and the challenge of putting those words into lines using the available poetic conventions and constraints (lots of alliteration and assonance/consonance, much repetition, very little rhyme or meter).
So I'm now considering "Betty's OS" to be only the second in a continuing series. Another thing I've been thinking of in that light is renaming the original "Betty" (to "Betty's Hat") to emphasize that it's just one of a bunch. Not that they'll all be equal to that heroic effort; except for one imagined future Bettywork, about Betty's favourite band, I expect they'll all be much shorter. In the new one, for example, the first four strophes (A-D) come in at 150 lines, shorter than the A strophe of the first. That's not a bad thing, though, since shorter works with shorter strophes may be more accessible, better as an introduction to the type.
I also see the blog format as the ideal place to post these new Bettyworks, for the same reasons I began this blog to post the original. The monthly archive feature allows one to post long works over the course of a month, as a series of short pieces, and retrieve and read them back later as either one long continuous work or separate short works. So far, three longer works have been archived that way:
- the original "Betty" in December;
- Wallace Stevens's "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" in February; and
- April magazine last month.
Every second month has been devoted to archiving a long work; a trend that will continue in June.