Monday, May 09, 2005

What The Book (Draft) Tells You

Things putting an actual manuscript together taught me:
  • There are some words I use a lot. Surprisingly, orbit seems to be one of them. When you're submitting poems 3 or 4 at a time to magazines, that's easier to miss. When you line all your poems up, those words line up with them. I rewrote some poems just to not beat those words and images to death.
  • Poems can look different in different light. At least 2 poems I liked as individuals couldn't find a home anywhere in the collection. But at least 2 poems I've never really cared for (and never thought of as "done") fit for some reason. I think it has something to do with pacing. Are there such things as "pacer poems"?
  • Mercy does not make the final edit. I felt more desire to trim the final product further than to put my darlings back in. I wonder if this is typical - to readjust your bar significantly higher when it comes time to risk an actual book.
  • Yes, Virginia, I do have a "voice". People have said this to me for some time, but I do start to see what makes one of my poems particular to me. I can't say "unique" - there are a lot of poems I haven't read yet - but I can for the first time detect the rhythms and sound patterns and basic vocabulary choices that are common throughout my work. And it makes it all the more pleasing when I surprise myself - hopefully that surprise reaches the reader in the collection, too.

As I said in an earlier post, this is my first contest submission, and my expectations are (I think) appropriate to my level of experience. But these new ideas (and the dozen other learnings I don't yet see clearly) were worth the hours of preparation and the $3 postage. Easily.

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