Poetry, process, progress.

The Long View

The Long View

I’ve been thinking a lot about process, mainly because of my Poem-a-Day project this year. I’ve been shifting strategies as I go along, sometimes using the prompts book, sometimes taking an older draft that badly need revision, sometimes writing what comes out when pressed to write with nothing in hand, or sometimes writing what I must write. Along with this I started this spring semester’s classes–two Writing II courses and a science fiction nd fantasy literature course. There are other things as well. I’d like to apply for a grant this year and I have major revising to do with my poetry manuscript. That is what I need to think about here.

The good thing about a Poem-a-Day project that lasts a full year is the many, many drafts it generates. That too is the drawback. If I honestly do a new draft s day, when would I revise? What about the drafts that take more than a day because of their complexity? I’ve worked revision into the project, so what remains is how to acknowledge and honor the need to take the long view with my poetry.

After two years of sending out different version of my current manuscript, it’s now clear that it is really two, possibly three manuscripts placed into sections. I need to separate it out into two and maybe a chapbook. New poems, bridging poems, are needed as well. Untangling the manuscript would do several positive things. It would give me a showcase for newer poems that are centering on a common theme and it would allow older poems that were cast by the wayside to come back and be in that newer manuscript. The old one would still exist; it has a central idea that still compels me. I am hoping that this way, what is left will be more cohesive and better. Unfortunately, if I stick to the new drafts pattern, this long-view work will not happen. It also takes away the chance for longer projects within a potential manuscript. I have a desire for a crown of sonnets, for example.

This holiday weekend I began untangling the manuscript and building the new one. So far so good. I ended up returning to Scrivener for building the manuscript. It has upgraded and is even better than ever. I may take what is left of the first manuscript and place it in Scrivener also. I’ve never found anything better for organizing a poetry manuscript. Using the fiction template, the “chapter” folders are the sections and the “subsection” pages are the individual poems. New features include using this structure to build a table of contents. I don’t know how functional that is yet, but if this version does all it says it can do, I won’t have to transfer the file to Word at all, which I used to do so that the manuscript could be manipulated into usable form.

This is a busy year, no doubt. I’ve set up some crazy goals for myself. However, if I don’t try, nothing happens at all and time passes anyway. Day twenty-one of the Poem-a-Day challenge is getting closer, the supposed point when a habit has been made. Here’s to good writing habits, ones that fits my projects, not an artificial competition.

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