Manuscript Pre-Send Out Panic

The deadline for the First Book Award from Crab Orchard Review is just four days away. I had this idea that I would work on my manuscript, “Predator’s Tongue”, while I was in Spain for a month and have a well-hammered piece by today. Well, that didn’t happen. Then, I wrote a couple of poems I really want in the manuscript, which requires more work: looking at how pieces ring off each other, how the narrative arc is developed, etc. etc. and so on. I’ve also been working on revisions for a couple, and they don’t feel done yet. Sort of far from done, really. I feel incredibly unsure. I do still have FOUR days to do something about this, but I’m finding myself feeling like I should just hide my manuscript in a box and wait until I feel like pulling it out (which may be never).

So, I’ll sort of brainstorm thoughts on here:

1.) My manuscript is currently divided into three sections (Animal, Child, Adult). The first two focus on different types of trauma (emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual, etc.). Many of the poems in the “Animal” section could be put into the “Adult” section, which means I could just have two sections. But I do like how the poems in the “Animal” section have a different ring to them because of the section heading. I also like having three instead of two section breaks, so if I decided to change it, I’d need to figure another one out, or cut the headings and just have blank pages…I think blank pages look weird in poetry books…Have any of you used blank pages for section breaks? Why? What do you think it accomplishes?

2.) This manuscript is a mix of myth/mythical poems and regular ones. Sometimes, I think that’s working since they balance one another out and break up the flow; other times, I look at the more confessional-style poems and think, “All of these need to be weirder! WEIRDER IS BETTER!” Other times, I think I should scavenge this manuscript for all the myth poems to stick into another manuscript, and leave the bones of this one to rot in some box in my computer room (Isn’t that a happy thought?).

3.) The other train of thought I’m following is, “Why don’t I just send it out as it is and see what happens? Yeah, it’s $25 that could be wasted, but wouldn’t it be cool to have enough faith in my work and in the process to TRY?”


Argh, argh, argh. Let’s see what happens in the next four days, shall we? Might be nothing. Might also be something.

6 thoughts on “Manuscript Pre-Send Out Panic

  1. Oh, I know what you’re feeling right now. I find myself sitting on pieces, even though I know it can’t get published if it stays on my hard drive. For me, it’s deciding something is “done.” I would think, however, that the deadline might help you. It would help me. Good luck!

  2. Hang in there. I wish there were some secret “right answer” to all of these questions. There simply isn’t. In the end, you have to trust your gut. I tend to send out things too early, but I don’t regret that. For me, it’s part of the process, part of forcing the critical eye of the editor. However, it sounds like you have some clear steps for revision already in place. Sometimes that means missing a deadline. That’s okay too.

    Oh, and what Peter Barlow said is brilliant:
    “Breathe in, breathe out.”

    I’d add:

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