Sunday, September 12, 2010

Notes on the Reconstruction

80ยบ ~ strong sun, playful breezes

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the gift of doing a manuscript exchange with Stephanie Kartalopoulos (click here to read).  Today, I'm writing about the result of that exchange.  Wow.  I feel like a minor earthquake has taken place, but with wonderful results.

First, let me say that Steph's manuscript was so strong and well-ordered that it taught me much just by reading it so closely.  I felt like I might have let Steph down a bit comment-wise, but I'd say we should all expect to see the manuscript become a full-fledged book very shortly!

As for my own manuscript, a little backstory for any new readers.  This will be my third year sending this mss. out; however, I'm beginning to discount the entire first year.  I started way too early again, and have since jettisoned a good third of those poems.  What went around last year was much more finished, and as past readers will know, I fussed and stressed over the order quite a bit.  What Steph was able to point out to me was that the order was arranged by grouping poems with similar images together a little too strictly and this wasn't letting the multiple themes of the book weave together in as interesting a way as possible.  (Steph has been a reader for a national poetry press and I'm so thankful to be a beneficiary of that experience!)

Through her amazing generosity, Steph offered a true re-seeing of the order of the book.  She didn't order it for me, but re-arranged which poems might go in each of the three sections.  She tore apart poems that I felt were married to each other.  I confess, there was a bit of the sledgehammer-to-the-chest feeling at first, but my old workshop training kicked in and I just put my head down and noted her groupings. 

We also talked about the title, as it is a bit longish.  The first year, the mss. was Glacial Elegies.  Last year it became In a World Made of Such Weather as This.  I'm now toying with Such Weather as This.

That was yesterday.  This morning, I locked the poor kitties from the office and spread the new groups out on the futon. 
Sec 1 done; Sec 2 in prog
Sec 1 - 3 done

Because of Steph's prompting, I was forced to see each poem in a new way and I saw the larger themes of the book come through more strongly, just as she'd seen that they might.  Wow!  Wonderful and welcome seismic shifts occurring. 

Of course, like all good revision, this one will need to sit and season for a bit.  I'll keep you all posted, Dear Readers, and thank you kindly for your attention.

6 comments:

mariegauthier said...

Thanks for the insights, Sandy -- I have every faith that your book will see print, and soon!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Marie, thanks for the faith. I needed it this morning.

Alison said...

Sandy--

I am doing this with my manuscript right now. I have been using notecards for poem titles and shuffling them that way. (Dog eats papers on floor.)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Alison,

I can see the headlines now: dog chooses prize winning poem (by not eating it!)

Kitties just like to sleep on my pages. :)

Good luck with your mss.

Kristin said...

I hate losing some of the alliteration in your shorter title. How about:

World of Such Weather as This

It may not say what you want it to say--I was just looking for a way to preserve those two letter ws.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kristin, I know, I love those w sounds, too. Still tinkering and thanks for the suggestion!