Friday, March 4, 2016
So...You Want to Write a Poetry Book?Pt. 1
If you're reading this, it means that you probably are curious about publishing a book of poetry, or would like to get started and need some ideas of how to get started. Well, you've come to the right place! I recently finished my first poetry book, 7 Blocks...and Two Stories Up and would like to share some of the things that worked for me.
One of the first things to do is to go through all of your poems, and find the ones that will best represent the type of book you would like to publish. If you don't have a theme or a title yet, that's OK. The collection of work that you decide on will guide the title and theme for your book. Go through all of your journals, notebooks and computer files, and create a new file where you will put the poems you are considering. A good idea is to save your work on a flash drive, cloud, or e-mail to yourself in case of a computer crash. It's OK if some of the poems you select are unfinished because as you work through the creative process, you can finish them or they may become part of another poem. Remember to take your time and not rush the process. Don't be distracted by other poets who are publishing books ahead of you. You don't know their process or how long they have been working. Focus on creating a body of work that will represent your best light as a writer.
A good number of poems to start with is 50-75. This number may decrease or increase as time progresses. Go through the poems you are considering, and read each one as if it were written by someone else. Step away from the poem as you know it, and read with a critical eye. Look for areas of repetition that are not deliberate. If spelling is not your strong point, or if you are not sure of the meaning of a word, use an online dictionary such as webster.com or dictionary.com. Look for words that can be more descriptive to replace "dead" words. Look for lines that are vague or unclear. Be sure that each thought is fully stated. This is the part of your publishing process that will probably take some time, but pace yourself and remember that you are creating a masterpiece that will have your name on it. If you know someone who is great at proofreading, hire them to help or barter services with them. Be honest and truthful in your work. Never plagiarize another poet! It's not authentic and it's a quick way to lose respect. If you can't write your own words, you're probably not ready to publish a book.
Once you have gone through the collecting and editing process (which will probably take several weeks or even months if needed), you may notice a theme or through-line that is consistent in your poetry. You may still have some unfinished work that can be combined with another poem, or can stand alone as a lead-in to another poem. At some point, you can start organizing your poems into sections if you have several that fall under the same topic, or you may have a collection of unrelated poems for your book. Remember that there is no set way to do a book of poems, but your final product needs to be carefully planned and well-written. Your book can start in one place, and take your reader to another, or be stationary and build interest from a single point. If all of your poems fall under a single theme, make sure that they don't all read the same way. Your reader will put the book down after the first few pages, and never pick it up again. Be open to new ideas! It's all up to your creative process, so take your time and make friends with your work.
We will share more points in the next blog. In the meantime, keep writing!