What is a girl to do. Yesterday I was all “everything’s going my way again”, you know and am I so fragile that just like that I’m down again? It’s Sunday and I’m alone and grumpy.
I’ve just finished going through the thesis preface feedback returned from my mentor a few days ago, for the second time. The first time I just skimmed through enough to see that most of it was his pointing out stupid mistakes I’m making with syntax and grammar. At this point I should probably be catching these things on my own and I get that. I do.
I appreciate his diligence in continuing to point all of these out. I need to try harder with regards to copy editing my first drafts before sending them out. I have some bad habits I need to break. But today I was looking for more. What else did he really say about my writing?
First let me explain that the thesis preface is the writing intended to explain the influences and aesthetic aims of the manuscript which it proceeds. In that way, it’s like writing about the writing. Part of that is expanding on my chosen theme and also giving some backstory on how some of it came to be. At this point, the speaker of the poems is me and therefore, I’m letting the reader in on my life.
That’s key. It’s my life. It’s personal. So when I read comments about the speakers perspective not being unique or how I’m putting the cart before the horse when I call this body of work a part of the collective of poetic discourse for future generations, I take it personally. There are dozens of comments about my mistakes and how tedious it is to mark them all and among all the comments only one positive statement. One. Uno. A single solitary statement about how it’s good work.
I’m so discouraged by this. At times I’ve lacked confidence in myself and my writing and let me just say that this does not help. It makes it worse, it makes me want to just give up. It makes me wonder what I just spent 40 thousand dollars on? Good grief!
I’m not looking forward to getting the comments back on my poem revisions today. I’m not looking forward to any phone call that might follow. Yes, I’ve learned a lot, but it’s come at a cost I fear. The cost that it’s all been for nothing and I might as well quit now. (Yeah, that’s the melodramatic attitude I’ve been told to cut from my poems).
I’ve tried to stay positive all semester, you know, saying that this tough treatment is what I needed to whip my writing into shape and Used that to stay focused—listening to everything he has said. I’ve acknowledged my mistakes and bad habits but clearly have not learned to apply those edits with diligence.
Now today I read these comments and realize there’s a tipping point. I’ve detected a trend where I will make a statement, an opinion based on my observation or feelings and he makes a point of telling me I’m wrong.
I said I thought the perspective of the speaker in the 4th section of my manuscript is unique. He just said it’s not. Well it’s an opinion and it’s actually something my mentor last semester said to me that I’ve put a lot of thought into. That’s why it’s in my preface. That’s A whole section of my book he’s dismissing. Saying that It’s not unique is akin to saying it doesn’t matter and that stings.
I said my writing would be available for future generations. And he basically said I couldn’t be so sure because it does not have an audience yet. Really? Really??!! All writing has an audience and purpose even if it’s only in the mind of the writer. It’s had a huge purpose for me in my life. And I’ve got children. I’ve got loved ones who will care to read my writing even if the rest of the world never sees it. It’s not like I declared myself to be Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson for Pete’s sake. Again, good grief. 🙄
And the last statement he commented on was that this manuscript, as it is, is probably too long to be published and would have to be refined further. He basically said that I was wrong and that the length is about right for a typical manuscript. This one, at least, I can concede as I haven’t been able to figure out the difference between a manuscript and a book of poetry.
I actually googled how long a typical poetry manuscript is, and found various responses that indicated longer than 50 pages with no upper limit defined. I just know how long all the books I’ve read have been. Most are not that long. Like I said, I probably just don’t even know what a manuscript is and how it is different from a book of poetry. 🙄🤷♀️
In any case, the original set of poems I sent were like 80 pages and that’s for sure way too long. I Can fix the preface by taking that statement out. Easy. Done. But I’ve cut and changed so many poems based on his feedback and now I’m wondering if some of that was a mistake.
Am I sacrificing my own voice in some way? I’m trying not to change the meaning at all, just tighten the language. But it’s all based on one persons opinions and ideals. What if I gave the same set of poems to a completely different person?
I’ve come across conflicting advice between my four different mentors in the past and that always gives me pause. I trust what I’m being told, but when some of it is contrary, I lose confidence.
Yeah, I’m losing all kinds of confidence. In myself, in other people, in the process. It can’t just all fall to shit when I’m so close to the end. It just can’t. Please, tell me it’s not all just been a waste.
So that’s where I’m at on this lonely Sunday morning. Not awesome. Like I started, how can I be so fragile? And like a broken record, I keep going around and around and never seem to get to the end of the song.
What am I supposed to do?
Asking the Universe for an Answer,