Saturday, July 30, 2011

Two Days Away from August

93º ~ back in the deep heat cycle with highs topping out at 100º soon, the rain it did forsake us

Technically, we're about a day and a half away from August, but that lacked the punch I wanted for the title.  Why all the fuss about August?  Several reasons really.

1.  I report back to school on Aug. 8th and students begin classes on Aug. 15th.  The scurry of prepwork looms.

2.  On Aug. 1 many, many lit mags will open their reading submissions for the fall.  Sadly, I did not build up a cache of poems over the summer as I'd hoped.  Still, I do have some strong candidates from the nursery tale series that will be meeting the editorial boards soon.

3.  August also begins the new year of sending out the manuscript.  I am embarrassed to say that this will be my fourth year shopping this book, although it bears little resemblance to the manuscript I sent around in 2008/2009.  I know the individual poems are strong because 90% of them were published in quality lit mags, some as long ago as 2006! 

Many things are more difficult with this book than with Blood Almanac.  

For one, with Blood Almanac being my first book, I was using all of my quality individual poems to shape the manuscript.  Now, having learned much more about putting a book together, I've got some great poems that aren't in the new book b/c they don't fit.  I also have the nursery tale series, which is something different all together.  I'm feeling much more like an out of control octopus now, with themes and tendrils going every which way.

Another difference is that I've made a larger home for myself in the poetry universe.  In almost every way, this is fantastic; however, there is the tiny sliver of competition amongst friends now.  I was just talking about this with a local poet friend as she and I will compete for a local fellowship this fall.  I am bone-honest when I say that I will celebrate without hesitation should she win and not me (and I'll be thrilled to have someone to commiserate with should we both lose); however, I am also bone-honest when I say that I will be disappointed should I lose and that disappointment will be a bit different because I know the competition.  It is the same with rejection elsewhere in the poetry world, a bit different because I know the competition so much better these days.  However, I would not trade my poetry friends & family for anything.

Also, I really want to share In a World Made of Such Weather as This with my poetry universe. 

I spent the morning back with the manuscript.  I did this in part because I began reading a book by another poet and then Lou-Lou stretched out over the pages and took it hostage.  While petting her, I thought about how carefully I was reading this book (by a poet relatively unknown to me) and how I was annotating it.  I decided to try reading Weather that way, although without the annotations as I could only read it on screen with Lou-Lou taking up the desk.

As usual, I was only able to sustain the deep & distant reading of my own work for a bit, but several surprising things happened.  Frequent readers may remember that I changed up the manuscript in June. Today, as I opened the file and began reading, I was surprised by the order of the opening section and then I remembered that I'd tinkered with the order in June.  This is exactly why I need to wait several weeks when revising.  I need that surprise to jolt me and get me to see more objectively.  I'm happy to say that as I read, I felt much more comfortable with the order of the book.  In some ways, it's more of a middle ground between the 09/10 version and 10/11 version.  It feels more settled this way and I am glad.

Another thing that surprised me was how confident I felt about the book as a whole.  I really believe in this thing and that may be why the disappointment of rejection hovers and hovers.  With Blood Almanac and with the first few versions of this book, I was confident about the poems but still hesitant about the whole. 

Finally, another poet friend had emailed me a few weeks ago as she reviewed her own proof for an upcoming publication.  Within those proofs she was able to see my poem as well.  She emailed me to compliment the poem and to question if it was in the book (she'd been one of my first readers).  Remembering this, I checked out my files today for any poems that should be in Weather that aren't.  Turns out, one of the poems I had loved in the 09/10 version had gotten dropped along the way.  Who knows how?  In any case, I got it worked back in and I found two other poems that belong as well.  Again, I just needed more time to gain the distance to see where they fit.  And perhaps in the other versions they didn't fit, but by tweaking the order, I found an opening for them.

All in all, I'm happy with today's work and I thank you all for reading and listening to me bemoan the rejection woes.  I know that we all share these woes at different times in our writing lives.  It's soothing to know I share the writing universe with such wonderful folks!


Justin Evans said...

I just sent out about eight submissions. They were two different packets. One to about five places, and the other to three places.

I know exactly what you are feeling about the whole process of sending out the book manuscript. I have got to research a whole lot more and trust that the manuscript is good enough to send out. (I also just found a poem I need to put back into the manuscript, having no idea how it had been taken out.)

I enjoy reading your blog and I hope I have not given you any reason to think you need to compete with me. You are, after all, the better poet.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, Justin, you are so sweet. As I said, I never mind competing with my friends. :)

Wishing you good luck with the game!

Kathleen said...

I love what you are saying about the distance helping you to appreciate the work and the re-ordering. And I understand the caring about and rejoicing/competing with friends. I was aided in this by being an actor first!--and in a city (Chicago) with great friendliness & generosity alongside the necessary competition for limited roles. It was always so wonderful to be able to recommend someone if I was called for a job or an audition and couldn't do it myself.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Welcome home, too. Glad y'all had a good time. :).