Friday, August 3, 2012

Draft Process: 11 General Orders of a Mystic and a Note on the Mss. as a Whole

84º ~ past noon and still in the 80s?, thank the rains for that, just a small drizzle, not enough to crack the drought, but the clouds are doing their job with the sun & the temps  (yesterday, we stayed at 85º until 2:00 p.m. when the clouds broke and the sun came out, went up to 102º in less than two hours)

The happiness of the day? 1) A morning so cloudy and drizzly that I slept in b/c the sun did not provide the usual alarm and 2) I spent several good hours with the fever manuscript and drafted one last poem.

I began my poetry time today by re-reading the fever manuscript from start to finish.  I'm happy to say that I only found one word to tweak within all of the poems that have been substantially revised.  I have perhaps six remaining poems that need to be scrutinized more fully.  It was a relief to get back to the sickly speaker and re-engage with her story.

As I got to the end and moved into what I had labeled as the appendix containing the five definition poems, I realized that I might want to provide some links from within the body of the book to the appendix.  I'm thinking of those footnotes that refer to a specific page in the back of the book.  Maybe?  Right now the appendix section feels like it's sort of floating at the end, and I know in many textbooks this is the case, so it might work as is. 

After reading through the whole thing, I turned to drafting those last two poems I mentioned previously.  It turned out that the image I dreamed up of what I thought would be the final poem had already been covered in what is the existing final sickly speaker poem, so all is well.  That meant turning to the general orders poem for the mystics.  As I drafted it, I had the two previous general order poems up as well.  In the mix, I decided to change all of the titles so I have "11 General Orders of a Nurse," "11 General Orders of a Whitecoat," and "11 General Orders of a Mystic."  While I like the use of "Sentry" for the nurses, I thought it would be forced to use "11 General Orders of a Sentry," "...of an Officer," and "... of a Civilian Consultant."  Who knows, I may change my mind.

The mystic poem did not come easily, nor did I expect it to given the time away from the desk; however, I kept bringing myself back to religious words and images and re-reading some of the mystic poems to remind myself of their roles.  The draft begins:

Make of your body a camouflaged shell.

Carry the sacred and the sacramental at all times hidden within.

The orders for the nurses and the whitecoats all begin with imperatives about tending the "fever body," so I liked the parallel with starting this one with the body again, but this time it focuses on the mystics' bodies.  The poem also gets at the tension as the mystics all work slightly outside the whitecoat/nurse system and sometimes fulfill missions for the unseen mentor.

As I drafted this last poem, I also revised the two previous general order poems and printed out copies to add to my wall of manuscript (pictured above).  I decided to create two appendices:  Appendix A: General Orders and Appendix B: Glossary. 

I'm absolutely thrilled with where the manuscript stands (53 pages...51 poems, 2 title pages - one for each appendix).  This manuscript began almost a year ago exactly and this is the fastest I've ever written this many poems and felt this strongly about them all.  My goal for the fall will be to fine tune and revise (especially those last few poems drafted in June that I haven't had time to really work with).  I'll be sending out individual poems and seeing what happens there.  I suppose I'll shoot for the spring to begin sending the manuscript out as a book, unless some major crack exposes itself in the meantime.


Quintilian B. Nasty said...

It sounds like a great collection.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Q. I have high hopes for now.

Tara Mae Mulroy said...

Congrats! It's really interesting to read your whole process and think about how far this manuscript has come. Be even cooler (for me) to see how the submission process for it is, since it's such a clear theme.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Tara Mae!