Friday, September 4, 2009

And So It Comes to September

September in the poetry world means more submissions of individual poems, of course, but it also means the new round of manuscript submissions. While there are a few publishers that accept submissions or host contests over the summer, I tend to organize my submissions by the academic school year. And so, I am trying to gather my courage about me like a shawl in order to begin the process again.

Frequent readers know that in August I struggled with the title of the manuscript. I think I've settled on using "In a World Made of Such Weather as This." Partly, I just love that line, which is from a poem called "And Sweet Were the Uses" (which is coming out in just a few weeks in the new Copper Nickel...yay!) . Partly, the old title "Glacial Elegies" really only fits the first section of the book in its new incarnation. I know the new title is lengthy, but I did find a few of my favorite books have longer titles, and I also know that if this manuscript ever finds a publisher, the publisher can help me tweak the title as well.

All this is to say that this morning, I've spent some of my writing time reading through the manuscript in one sitting. I am constantly surprised at how difficult it is for me to read the book through the eyes of "the reader." In the past week when I have tried to do this, I've found myself rushing through the poems, saying to myself "yes, yes, this is the one about the wind and the voice" and flipping the page. I work so hard on each individual poem that I become steeped in its nuances and feel it is as familiar as my own name, which makes it easy to skim. That's not good if you're trying to get a sense of how the whole thing hangs together.

Last week, I reordered some of the book, creating four sections instead of three and adding some of my newer work, removing a few poems that just kept rubbing me wrong. Today, I forced myself to slow down and really read every word from cover to cover (even if the covers are just the much-abused plastic covers of my three-ring binder). It was great. I've marked seven poems that either need a few tweaks of revision or need to be reviewed for removal. It feels like I've accomplished some real work on the book, which helps gather that courage, as I know I'm making the book as strong as it can be.

Next weekend will be the first round of working through the different submission guidelines of the different presses. I must forget the round of rejections from last year and remember that I have done the work of revision and am hopefully sending out a better book.

Forward motion is what it's all about.

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