The Publishing Process - Early enthusiasm

I had a conversation early last winter with a publisher of creative writing. I was volunteering to help them with another project at the time, but it was casually mentioned that there might be an opportunity to get my first collection of poems published sometime soon. I mentioned that I'd read a collection by another local poet of a similar age-bracket to myself, and was told very firmly not to be too influenced by what they had produced. I also mentioned that I had nearly 250 poems to work with and was told to put together closer to 50, and we left it at that.

I didn't mention it again for several months so for a while I didn't know if the opportunity still stood. Even so, I took some time over the May Bank Holiday weekend to put together the first draft of a manuscript. It was a 40 page document with 47 poems in English, 2 in Irish, and 2 English translations. Some of the poems had scarcely changed since I wrote them as a teenager, and at the time I wanted to keep them that way. The others have had multiple re-drafts over the years. I liked that first selection a lot, and tried to frame the poems as a kind of progression of nearly 13 years of writing.

After that I took some time to do some extra research. In other words, I put "What makes a good poetry collection?" into Google and read the first few decent results. I found the 2013 series of eight essays by American poet and writer Robert Lee Brewer particularly interesting. He had a first draft accepted in January that year but spent eight months editing and preparing it for launch. Read more on his experience here:

At that stage I starting to wonder what to do next. It was easy to let my imagination run wild. Would I have to re-write a big chunk of work? Would I have to cut poems I'm fond of? Would I have to totally change my approach to things like punctuation, capitalisation, line lengths? Would I be judged for not having villanelles, sestinas, cinquains, monotetras, rondels?

One Thursday afternoon in the middle of May, by lucky coincidence, I bumped into the very man I wanted to see. We chatted for a few minutes before I casually dropped it into the conversation that I'd been working on something. He was interested in seeing it, and suggested a possibility of this becoming a book before the end of 2018. Exciting times! Right..?


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