VelvetBlory changed Tumblr for me. I was a part of something bigger, something creative. It was through Velvetblory that I found Rakuli, a talented concrete poet (more on that), an Australian photographer and one of my kindred spirits. (I never told him that last bit, though; I just liked almost all of his posts.) VelvetBlory was what finally prompted me to start sharing my work after years of silence, with a little hashtag that I hoped would catch their attention. They never noticed me, so far as I can tell, so I worried that my work was awful; it was such a disappointment.
In 2011, the VelvetBlory crew announced they were publishing a book. Writers eagerly submitted works in the hope of a ‘real’ publication; recognising my own work was unworthy (as all writers firmly believe, except those whose work actually is unworthy), I didn’t. But I did order a copy of the final product, and when The VelvetBlory Blue Book #1 arrived I eagerly unwrapped it and placed it on my bedside table with every intention of reading a few pages each night. I didn’t, though. It lost me; it was such a disappointment.
It stayed on my bedside table for several years, unread but for the first few pages. It relocated whenever I did, living in and out of boxes until one day I forgot it existed. I didn’t recall it until I unpacked it again in mid-2014 and placed it hesitantly in the poetry section of my bookshelf. I finally read it in 2016, on a deckchair in New Caledonia. The view was spectacular; the book less so. It was such a disappointment.
I read on, though, because surely even the most awful book contains a few magical lines! Gems like this:
I remember with eyes closed and
feet moving forward.
So I underlined those gems and noted them down. I even found a few blories that I liked in their entirety, such as Title by Eric Boyd, 13 by Scottie Hughes, The Meeting by Roxy Resic (Roxanne Magdaleno) and, of course, Rakuli’s contribution: Poetry was her name.
But with its unprofessional layout, inconsistent design and grammatical errors, the compilation left me with a foul taste and a bunch of unanswered questions: why does the cover call it VelvetBlory, all one word, when the title page calls it Velvet Blory, with a space? Why does a page break separate that blory from its title? Why is this page double-spaced and that page single-spaced; why does the font change here and the numbering format there? Why have you hyperlinked text in a printed book, where I can’t click it? Why are these blories printed unedited, with grammatical errors that can’t possibly be for a deliberate stylistic effect?
And while all these questions were valid, none were so valid as the one that addressed my self-sabotage, the one I did not ask: why did I think my work wasn’t good enough to submit?
I can’t comment on VelvetBlory's more recent compilations except to say the covers look more professional. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the first book, though, unless you're doing it solely to fund their cause—you’re more likely to find the good stuff by searching their website. But you should definitely check out the writers I’ve mentioned above.