Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Question about Underlife

Got a question about Underlife, the process of creating this manuscript, or a particular poem? Ask me! I'll be happy to answer your questions.

Jennifer said...
Q: Ah, it must have been great to get that note from your mentor. I have two questions. Did you run any drafts of your manuscript by him? As you were putting Underlife together (my copy arrived yesterday, btw!) did you have a few trusted readers, or was it, by that stage, a solo effort?

A: No, I did not run the manuscript by my mentor, Phil Levine. I felt I needed to do this on my own—at least without the help of a teacher.

In the first round, when I finally felt confident enough, I sent my manuscript to two of my most trusted poet friends. They felt it needed work. Quite frankly, I felt otherwise—I knew the answer was somewhere in the middle. So I made some revisions and sent it out again to a wider group. Round 2 included poets, writers who were not poets, and good friends whose opinion I trusted and valued. So, 10 people in all. That took about four months.

The hardest part of the writing process, I think, is trusting your instincts. How do you know when you have something worth sharing? You just know, and you have to believe in your vision. Sounds hokey, but it's true.

Thanks for the question, Jennifer.


jessie carty said...

deciding when to stop taking advise is a big one. i had quite a few discussions on this with my MFA peers during the last residency we had together.

as i prepare to give my 2nd manuscript to readers, i am trying to decide who and what i am seeking...

and i think i found a work around for the problem i seem to have posting to some blogspot blogs :)

January said...

If you can define your goals up front, that makes the process go a lot smoother. Good luck with manuscript #2.

And I'm glad you found a workaround to Blogger. Not sure what the problem is but I'm glad you're posting again!


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