I started putting together manuscript #2 in June 2009, and then last month I blew it up. I added more recent poems. During the first go-round, I left out poems to avoid certain painful topics. But just like life, I can’t leave anything out. By leaving out poems about divorce, the first version seemed as if it was missing something. Then there was the "Misery Islands" long poem—I must have started it in September '09. It was ambitious, beginning with great sound and fury. At some point, backed away from it. Maybe I was too close to the breakup to really work on it.
So last month, I dove into these projects in earnest. (All those times I said I was working on the long poem or the manuscript—I wasn’t. Not really. Not like this.)
If you know nothing else about me, you know I am goal oriented. When Jennifer Jean and I decided to go on our writer’s retreat, I put a stake in the ground with a deadline. I started what is now the working copy of the manuscript.
Here are a few bullet points about my process, because I’m tired of paragraphs:
- This iteration has 55 poems/ 63 pages. That’s trimmed down from 77 poems/85 pages.
- I laid out all 77 poems on the floor and took out poems I didn’t want to include.
- Because I write about the same themes from different angles, I chose the best poem(s) on similar topic for inclusion.
- I’ll keep the others for future projects.
- On the second pass, I put them in their current order.
- I have two out of eight sections of the "Misery Islands" poem to finish.
- One-third of the poems, including "Misery," needs revision.
- No title for collection #2 as of yet.
Jennifer was my first reviewer. I needed her input to let me know if I was on the right track. I’ll take the next few weeks to rework then revise. They I’ll send it out for review to six or seven poets for the second round in August. Getting multiple critiques helped me immensely the first time around. I take the feedback that makes the most sense to incorporate into the next round. And then, I’ll pass it to a smaller group for feedback. This group will be a broader group of writers and non-writers. You know … readers! Finally, I hope, it will be ready to submit. No firm timelines here but I’d like to have it ready by October for submission.
There are no guarantees the second time around. I just hope the second collection conveys growth, and a certain strength of character. Don’t know why that’s important, but it is. And, I'm happy with the quality of work, and the depth and range of subject matter.
If you’re working on a manuscript, what is your process like? Do you have multiple readers before submission or do you go it along? How’s that working for you?