This afternoon, I sat at my local Starbucks and started the process of saying goodbye to the poems in my manuscript. As you may know, I’m working on my first collection—it hasn’t been picked up for publication yet. But as I deciphered the comments that I’ve received thus far, here’s what I realized: sending these poems out in the world for publication scares me.
You’d think that posting individual poems online would be more terrifying, but only a few people in my immediate circle of friends know that I blog. Like most poems, they’re deeply personal, so the thought of neighbors, coworkers, and family members reading my work makes me anxious just typing the words.
I’ve had people come up to me and ask questions about things I’ve said on the blog—“so tell me, how did you feel when you wrote that poem about blacking out in a bar?” Yikes! Can’t imagine someone I see every day asking me about this stuff, holding a copy of the book in their hands like evidence from a crime scene. "Hey Jan, read your book. How did you feel about blacking out in a bar?" If I don’t put those thoughts out of my mind I’ll never get the collection finished.
Thumbing through the pages, I also realized that some of these pieces are more than 10 years old, while have been around less than three months. Patterns are revealing themselves, creating theme and giving me the tools to shape an arc in my work. The flip side of patterns is that I’m relying on the same phrases and themes, which makes me feel somewhat unoriginal. So it just feels like it’s time to let go of the whole thing and move forward.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to end this post, but I just saw a commercial in the background that sums up how I feel. It was a Cadillac ad with Andy Garcia driving a big, ol’ SUV down a beautiful stretch of highway, and in voiceover he said something to the effect of: “It’s okay to take a fall; you just want to make sure you fall forward." And that’s how I feel about this manuscript. I’m putting it out there with all of my anxieties in hopes I get more than I give.
Visit Sunday Scribblings for more goodbyes and fond farewells.