Asking the tough questions

Yesterday, I finished the rough draft of this version of Swallow Tongue Redux 2015. I followed my dear editor’s advice even though it felt uncomfortable in the process. Put this poem here?? What is she thinking? Cut that line! THAT LINE!!! Cut this poem. THIS WHOLE POEM!!!!!!! AHHHHH! 

But I carried it through. I needed to see the whole manuscript in a new light. Once I finished, I added in a few poems that were newer, but I finally was able to ask the tough questions:

Poem, lovely little poem,

1. Can you stand alone, a true independent entity?

2. Do you connect to and resonate with the whole?

3. Are you too much like other poems without sharing something new or interesting?

4. Are you here to contribute to the narrative arc or just as filler?

My dear editor was right. The manuscript was too long, too many poems sort of repeated each other, and some poems just couldn’t stand alone. Cut cut cut. Some poems needed more revising or needed to be combined with other poems. Revise revise revise.

Now I’ve got exactly 48 pages, the bare minimum when submitting a full-length to contests and presses. Some presses do require a longer length. The Unicorn Press First Book Contest requires a minimum of 56 pages, so it looks like I won’t be submitting to them, but for the rest, I’m set.

The deadlines for all of these contests is March 31st, so I have plenty of time to sit on this newest version before coming back to it. I can set it aside and then come back to it and really see how it all feels. Now it feels solid. It feels springy and fresh. I’m excited to see where this goes!

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