It seems like I get the most satisfaction when I’m working on a new project that I’m excited about. I get distracted by a new shiny and somehow that becomes my whole goal in life. I forget what was important yesterday… and pour my heart into what’s new.
I think that’s only human.
Working on new poems is a good example, but despite having a few new-ish ones to fine-tune, they are mostly in short supply so I’ve turned my attention to larger glitter bombs. Like a chapbook or.. like what happened yesterday.. a full manuscript.
These projects are usually discovered in my daily activities—lit mag business, newsletters I’ve subscribed to, and good gravy, even Twitter. That’s where the call for submissions to a book publisher caught my attention two days ago.
Before I knew it I was revisiting that MFA thesis manuscript that’s gone through countless rounds of revision. I’d really love to have a full manuscript published.. especially that one as it meant so much to me when it originally came together. The story arc, the undercurrents of theme, and the overall aesthetic. I put so much effort into its making. It’s natural to want to see that brought to life in a book I can celebrate and share.
However, each publisher has their own set of guidelines. This one is no different. Most of them were standard and straightforward. However, the big twist on this one is that the collection can only have a maximum of six poems from any previous chapbooks.
This is rough for me as a whole section of my manuscript are poems that appear in my forthcoming chapbook. This means I have to not only rework that section, but cut about 8 poems. EIGHT!
That’s a lot of little darlings to cut, especially given that most are important to the story and the conversations the poems have amongst each other in the book. So this was my task yesterday.
I got it down to about nine left and needed to cut three more. I hung my head at that point, screen becoming blurry in front of my eyes. How??!! How was I going to cut 3 more. I almost gave up and tried to convince myself that it’s a stupid rule and arbitrary number that they just pulled out of the air.
But of course I did not quit. 1…2…3…Cut, cut, cut. I kept the 6 poems that mean the most to me and the overarching narrative. At that point I was able to move on to rearranging and filling in the gaps. Another fun task.
I’m not kidding about that. It is fun. That part of why I started writing this post. To get to the part where I can do a happy dance over being super jazzed about what I’m creating. Yes, the manuscript was essentially done, and a big part of me doesn’t want to revisit the individual poems, but breathing new life into it with massive changes is exciting.
Late last year I went through the exercise of creating two new chapbook sized submissions and sent them out. Of course I’ve only gotten rejections, but it was a great rush at the time. This one will probably get rejected too, but at least I had fun creating it.
Though I do lose sleep. I must fall asleep thinking about it and some idea in that wakes me up in the wee hours and I’m compelled to get back at it.
That’s what happened today. I woke just before 5 am and tip-toed to get my laptop. I’ll prolly regret it later, but what’s a SugarCookie to do?
Of course I also have my regular agenda to attend to today so I won’t have too much other time to spend on it. The clock is ticking and that deadline is just around the corner. Thank the Universe for deadlines!!! 😜
On that note, that’s it today.
Cheers to finding a satisfying new shiny every day,