Your work is not final. There was, of course, genius when you started it, and strings of word wrung straight from your heart formed verses on their own. But the dot is not the end. There should be the washing of the eyes and a return to the page, like showering yourself from all those crazy ideas that have gotten into your head. You look at it with a fresh soul, and when your chest nods as you utter every line, then you must have done right.
It’s not always that way.
Yesterday, I started editing poems I wrote back in 2016 and saw them with a pair of new vision. Words can be re-read in another cadence. We all have our own rhythms in our own seasons. This season is all about breaks in the middle, like words hanging from your lips and your hands gesture, “Wait.” There is a perpendicular pause. And the poems started to have their own dance; not a waltz, but something like a jumpy staccato. There’s bounce in it, and there’s a story. I liked how it rang in my ears.
Also, I submitted them out there, again.
Poems have to find their places if you can’t make one for them yourself.
My work is not final.
Not until someone else says, “This is perfect.”
Strangely, the story I wrote in a notebook twelve years ago took me an entire decade before the words were penned, intentionally, for a tangible, not-handwritten book. It was also 2016 when I started it. Developing it. If I’d put my writing then to my writing now, there would be a difference. A maturity. The time in between, despite sluggish and tedious and heart-breaking, was a slow stride towards victory.
Victory, in this case, was a big improvement in my craft.
Ever since I started submitting it in October 2017, there have been 3 full requests. 3 different versions. Anxiety has become my friend; it was the fear of patching plot holes with shiny covers, and every stitch into the gaps is a domino effect. One change leads to many others. Revision, dear darling, is a torture.
But it is also an epiphany. A discovery of what’s possible. An affirmation of what you can do.
Do not fear it.
In the course of writing this manuscript, from its beloved title Saltfolk to Here Comes Yago to now, Hide & Sing, I have learned to befriend it. It was that nudging terror that whispers, “That doesn’t settle nicely.” It shakes me to the core. It pushes me to get back up and rewrite again, no matter how many the words, no matter how long the nights. It was glorious.
I have had many mistakes, first of which was sending a MS that was not my best to agents who were their best. But, during a season, while writing and imagining and creating, your eyes will be covered with dust and ashes and you can’t see better. What you thought was glowing was actually just a rusty piece of metal with its gold parts wrinkling like thin foil.
You better look and look again.
My manuscript is better than before. There has been a lot of loss in this journey, particularly some regretful NO’s, but every good thing has to have a sacrifice.
This is mine. x
Make yours count.