Friday, January 24, 2014

So anyway, my poetry manuscript is GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!

Yeah, it's no biggie. I've only been waiting for this since I was fifteen years old.

I've only submitted manuscripts of my poetry to publishers about half a dozen times within the past 25 years, but the closest I've ever come was receiving an "Honorable Mention" in a chapbook contest that was about six years ago, but it came without publishing. Of course I was thankful for the nod of encouragement, so the following year I submitted to yet another contest and did not receive anything but a rejection letter. After that, I wasn't able to go through the work and frustration again, so I stuck to just writing poems, figuring it wasn't God's will for me to have a chapbook. Ever.

I can't remember how it came about, but sometime last year, I found out that Finishing Line Press was holding a chapbook contest. I went to their website and was excited to read that even if your manuscript didn't place, it would be considered for publication. I knew about Finishing Line Press because many talented poets I know have had their chapbooks published by them. Even though the possibility of being rejected again was huge, I figured, why the hell not? It's not like I'm busy with anything, and this will give me something creative to do besides playing Scrabble on Facebook.

In case you are not familiar with the term, Writer's Digest defines a chapbook as "a small collection of poetry, generally no more than 40 pages, that often centers on a specific theme... It’s typically saddle-stitched (like a pamphlet or magazine) and is a format well suited to smaller print-runs." It's how most poets start out: a few chapbooks, and if you're good, then eventually a full length collection is published.

The work of putting my manuscript together for the contest was as much thrilling as it was depressing. I read through files, years of poetry, and in the end, I found only 30 poems that were maybe, just possibly worthy of being in a collection. So I edited and edited, cut, scrapped and rearranged words and stanzas like a collage of photographs.

When I finally had everything printed out and ready to mail, I prayed. I said something like this, "Lord, I know writing poetry is a gift that You have given me, and some of my poems have been very good, but I know that most people entering this contest are far more talented than I am. So, I've decided to leave the end result up to you, and since I will most likely be rejected, please help me to not get too depressed when I get the 'thanks, but no thanks' results."

Months went by, and I mean so many months that I actually forgot about the contest -well, that could  have a little to do with all the drugs I am on- but then, on the afternoon of January 12th, I woke up, had my chai tea and talked with the Big Guy, and got around to checking my e-mail and there was something from Finishing Line Press, with the subject reading, "CHAPBOOK ACCEPTANCE: water unto light". A few days later I got this in the mail:

Ever since, I have had moments of elation, anxiety, frustration, fear, joy, anger and just plain freaking-the-hell-out -but that emotional struggle I will cover in my next blog. In the meanwhile, please thank God with me, because He is the one who has made this happen! YAAAAH!