Recently I “finished” two poetry manuscripts, both around a hundred pages each. One took several years to complete; the other only a few months. Both books were written online. Both changed significantly from the online versions. I printed the the manuscripts out; it’s great to feel the heft of the paper pages, as if words online were just in my head, and only now have suddenly materialized.
But, of course, once I read through a manuscript with pen in hand, I can’t help but make changes. Manuscript #1 still needed edits and a re-shuffle of the order of poems; there is a narrative of sorts running through it, and some poems need to be juxtaposed with others; also, printing out a manuscript makes me realize that some stanzas, and some whole poems just have to be tossed. Can’t be helped. Also, I changed some titles.
The other manuscript takes the form of a daily, or diary. So it’s in a calendrical order that can’t be changed. The diary format suggests that the poems express the moment as-is, but I REALLY wanted to make changes to some of those poems. It’s amazing how some things just don’t become apparent to me until I print something out and read it on paper. Some of those as-is moments just didn’t cut it. Printing #2 also causes me to struggle with the poems a bit, philosophically, questioning my assumptions for the project.”
Anyway, this is what I’m working on now; but, struggles aside, it does feel good to be at this point in the process.