For the past two summers, I have imagined that I have the poems for a third manuscript. For the past two summers, I have been wrong.
I carefully ordered and re-ordered the pieces, looked for connecting threads, looked for cohesion, but they never seemed quite right. They weren’t ready to be a book. They weren’t even ready to be something that could be a book if it had the right poems to flesh it out.
And I couldn’t help thinking I was doing something wrong. Although I spent years placing my first book, my second came rather quickly, published three years later. And although I have worked steadily on two chapbook projects in the past two years (one of which found a home with the fabulous Porkbelly Press last year and one which is still making the rounds), I have had the nagging feeling that I should be working faster toward a third book.
Social media hasn’t helped. There is an intense social pressure when Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of others publishing books, winning fellowships and awards. Even though I know that these successes are years in the making for every writer, and I am always happy to see the successes of other poets, all of these posts make me feel as if I’m not doing enough. As if I’m not a real writer.
So, for the last year, I have been writing. When I have the time. Whenever I have the inclination. When there’s something that is nagging at the back of my mind. I stopped submitting poems altogether for about six months. I concentrated on creating work. And guess what? It’s almost summer. And once again, I really do think I may have a third manuscript now. If not, I have a whole lotta poems. And that’s a start.
“Painting Which Is In Fact Not A Sky” – Juxtaprose
“Variations of Leaving” – Poet Lore (print)