My blogs about putting together book manuscripts seem to get a lot of interest and I was thinking some more about the process last night. So, I thought I’d detail a little more on the whole process of putting one together. Or at least how it went for me.
I tried making several chapbooks starting in 2006. Often they were only loosely based together on theme and I received little response, which isn’t surprising because when they were turned down I’d look at them again and be like – hmm – nope not ready.
Then I came up with the idea for At the A & P Meridiem, which was having a poem for each hour of the day. Of course that makes organization a little bit easier but I had to decide which hour of the day to designate. What says 9pm? Quite a few poems were written with a specific hour in mind but not all. Then there was the question of what hour to start and stop the book on. I deliberated this a lot and finally was lucky enough to realize that the really strong ending of 6pm would be good to close the book, which would allow 7pm, the poem that started the whole project, to lead the book. Win!
At the same time that I was putting this chapbook together, I had begun writing a series of poems I call the “Fat Girl” poems. One example is on the Dead Mule’s website where it was published. I toyed with how to organize that group of poems but I found that a chronological order because the poems were all from a possible single indidivual at different phases in their life. This chapbook still has not been published but it has been a finalist, has honored me with a phone call from an editor as well as several handwritten notes from editors. I still have it underconsideration in a few places but I think by the Fall I’ll just have to decide if I want to continue to send it around. I haven’t sent it anywhere new in a while. I really love the chapbook and I am tempted to self-publish it because of that.
While I was trying to get these chapbooks published, I was also sending the individual poems around. There was only one poem in A & P that ws ever published and only 2 from Fat Girl, so far, have been published. Once A & P as a whole was accepted for publication I no longer sent the individual poems out. I’m still sending the Fat Girl poems around.
And I bring up this idea of individual publication because I think it has a definite bearing on the publication of a manuscript on a whole.
I’ve been reading a lot of first books by poets. What I notice is that they all seem to contain a large number of poems that were previously published in journals. And I mean that if the book contained 32 poems, about 30 of them had already been published or at least around 25. Which is an even bigger challenge for someone like me who rarely ever produces a poem that is beyond one page.
So, I look back at my original manuscript, my thesis, it went through so many variations as I tried to decide on the order. The order that I eventually sent it out in was pretty strong, I think, and I think my thesis committee felt pretty good about it too. But, I’d say only about 10 poems of the 48 included had ever been published. I think that is a sign to me now that the book just isn’t quite ready. So, I’m continuing to send my individual poems out and I’m going to reassess putting together a manuscript again when I have about 50 indidivual poems published. Whew. That sounds like a lot!
Which brings me to my final currrent project, “The Wait of Atom,” the title poem appears in The Wild Goose Poetry Review. This project is, so far, about 100 poems, all based in some way on science, I won’t get more specific than that at this time . Not all of the poems are keepers but I have a good feeling that I will be able to cull at least 50 for a manuscript. But, given what I’ve just said do I start sending it around when only about 4 of the individual poems have been published?
That will be something for me to think about next week when I get back into the revisions and send out the rest of the individual poems. Guess I should go do an updated count on how many individual poems I have published – and this number is rough based on ones that aren’t in the chapbooks or Atom – about 30. So I have a ways to go!
Hope you guys found some of this enlightening. Still waiting to go see Star Trek this weekend…live long and prosper.