This morning my father is having his second (and last) surgery to finish placing all of the hardware he needs for Deep Brain Stimulation therapy for Parkinson's Disease. Tomorrow, I'll be on the road to Iowa to visit and see for myself how he is doing. (C. will be home with the cats, recovering from his semester.) Dad's hardware won't be activated until the very end of December, so we won't know how much improvement he will see until the first of the year, but I just need to check in and give everyone hugs.
|from creativecommons.org, click for link|
That being said, I'll be offline for a few days more. You can see that I have been fairly quiet already this break, after Monday's draft. I confess, Tuesday was a disaster in terms of poetry. One of my goals for the break is to re-visit In a World Made of Such Weather as This, my 'second book.' As most of you know, the manuscript has gotten lots of love in terms of semi-finalist status and a bit of love as a finalist; however, it has not made the final leap to publication, and I've been sending it out in what I consider its strongest form for two years (with a re-ordering between year one and year two). In any case, I thought I was ready to take another look under the hood and see if I needed to tinker with it more.
It's hard for me to describe what happened on Tuesday when I opened up the binder and started reading the poems. After the first poem, I started questioning everything. I wondered what I had been thinking. I beat myself up. I felt sick. I was tired of all the poems I was reading. I half-heartedly shuffled a few poems around. I told myself to stick with it and just keep reading. I stopped reading and closed the binder in defeat. I'm now wondering if it is even a book. Most horrify thought: it is not a book and I've wasted my time on it. I feel sick again, now, just thinking about it.
On reflection, I suspect I know what is happening. I've "broken up" with those poems. Traci Brimhall writes about this transition at Her Circle Ezine. The new series I'm working on is so exciting and full of energy that I've moved on to a new passion. Since the sickly speaker poems are shaping up as a true series with an arc of a plot that the poems will follow, I'm caught up in that cohesiveness. My weather book is definitely NOT a project book. It is a 100% mix-tape book, with common themes and threads floating throughout, but no definitive arc that moves through time and place. Connections that seemed natural and instinctive when I put those poems together have evaporated in the face of how easily the new project poems are sliding together.
Today, I sit here gathering questions.
If nearly every poem in the collection has been published individually, is that enough? Is that too much? Do I suffer from over-exposure?
Is the poetry world more apt to publish a project book over a mix-tape book?
What does it mean to collect these loosely connected poems in a book and send it out into the world?
Is it all about audience at this point, growing the audience for all of the poems together?
When does one decide to abandon a collection?
How does one deal with this abandonment?
One thought that is running through my head is that I need to go back to square one and pull the whole thing apart and find the poems that still sing to me and see what I have then.
Another thought is that I'm being too hard on the book and need to leave it be and see what happens with this round of submissions. But how long do I keep putting the book out there without revision and can I continue to do so when my passions have moved on to other work?
While nothing about this work is physically taxing, the emotional exhaustion is real.