Down to the Wire
At 17:26 CST, I emailed my chapbook submission to Robert Lee Brewer for the 2009 November PAD Chapbook Challenge. It culminated the month-long fits and starts through this morning, to edit and revise, to make better the stuff I’d posted.
I knew what I was in for when I took this on: I had to get a handle on my doubt demons and let them know this was going to happen. That’s my usual block but I really wanted this. I had to get around my family. I don’t really spell it out for them, just try to avoid them when I need to. And, my other one is the doubt about knowing what I am doing.
Calling for Reinforcements
I took a look at the poems and discovered an amazing thing: they really didn’t work for me after revisiting. The poems were going to need serious work.
My second thought was to stop with finishing the writing part. After all, that part alone is a big accomplishment. Then I remembered my goal to complete the whole process. Following Robert’s suggestion, I waited a few days until the weekend, and reassured myself that I only needed 10 pages—even I could do that.
So, I picked the most bearable, up to 19 pages, printed them up and left them alone again. I went in search of materials that would make me think I could pull this off. For inspiration, I turned to The Poetry Home Repair Manual © 2005 by Ted Kooser, notes from Sonya Feher’s post about editing poems, and The Waste Land by T. S. Elliot.
- Ted Kooser was the 2004-2006 US Poet Laureate, so I read his book a few years back and I really liked it.
- The Sonya Feher post listed 5 steps, some I did already and the others worked in my head when I read them.
- If you’re wondering what the last book had to do with it all, it’s inspiration of a different sort. You see, this book version has in it Elliot’s original draft with his strike through marks and word changes. It gives me hope.
This collection was my sustenance through December edits.
So, I’m Content
A few times I thought I might give up. I know there’s so much I need to learn about poetry. Loving it really isn’t all there is to it. Then I made myself a deal. I’ll finish this project and revisit it at the end of the year, after I’ve learned stuff (part of my 2010 plan). It will be good to see how the poems look to me and what changes I might make then. Reminds me of the pre-tests and post tests in school.
With that, my first deadline for 2010 is met! It’s a great way to start the year. Although I will admit, it was rather anti-climatic when I pressed the send button. I worked hard, did my best, finishing with only hours to spare. And then the question: what if my best isn’t good enough? It took me a couple of hours to let it sink in that this project was complete. Win or not, I followed through and that’s my big win…Now I have to get about the business of studying poetry.
Where to start? What do you invest in studying the craft of poetry? Do you work to expand your skills? How do you go about it? If you have some ideas for me, please share them in comments.