Thursday, June 04, 2009

Poet Anxiety

So yes, I posted some random 1-9 in post yesterday and I thought I'd explain myself for anyone interested.

I learned on my husband's birthday (June 2) I was a finalist in a poetry book contest and I needed to send in my manuscript to the judge. And here's the thing, they said I could send in a revised manuscript, but to remember my manuscript (which was one of only 3% chosen) was chosen how it was (read: without revisions).

So this left me in a dilemma as my manuscript has changed--though not a lot--a bit. I changed the order here and there. I changed a title or two. I took out and added poems. Mostly though, the manuscript was the same poems, just a few tweaks here and there.

But this looking back at how my manuscript was and how it is now left me completely anxious about which order and which titles to use. Wait, let me revise that. The first day I felt REALLY good about things, everything was falling into place, but on the day I mailed my manuscript, I'm afraid I over-thought things. I printed off my old manuscript and began comparing it page by page to my new revised mss.

Again, much of it was the same, but when it came to making decisions, for example I had the 2nd & 3rd poems flip-flopped in the first issue, I felt as if I was playing that game on the Price is Right where the contestant puts the numbers for the car's price in a certain order then pulls the big handle and it lights up *2!* correct and then she runs back and moves the numbers around again and pulls the handle and this time it says *0!* correct. And now she's in a panic, which 2 numbers were right and which two were wrong?

This is how I felt getting my manuscript ready to send in-- which poems did they like? which did they not? what should I add? What should I not?

While on Day 1, I had this underlying confidence (I was chosen!), Day 2 gave me a huge insecurity (I was chosen?)

Ultimately, I made the best decisions at the time though there were a couple places I didn't follow my gut and I am KICKING myself. Of course, I try to remind myself that only I know these places and what the judges don't see or know, won't hurt them (or me).

Anyway, the process ended up being my own odd version of Mastermind where I so badly wanted to have correct poems lined up in the correct order. Though there's a part of me that knows unlike Mastermind, poetry can have more options. My poems are not blue, red, black and yellow. They are gray, gray, white, and gray. I have a better chance of getting the order right that way...this is what I tell myself. When I'm awake at 2 in the morning thinking, "Ah! I should have done this." (My mum always says though "Don't should yourself.")

Still, sometimes I just want to get it right. And I know that "right" is subjective. And when I did the odds, I have a 1-9 chance of being chosen. Which makes me laugh because if a doctor told me I had a 1 in 9 chance of getting cancer, I'd be thinking, "No way will it be me, that's only a 11% chance!" But as a poet I'm thinking, "A 1-9 chance is pretty good! It could be me!"

But it's done, over. My manuscript is in some post office right now and my words and poems will be in a stranger's hands, and I can only believe that what I wrote will connect with him or her, that it will be the right words in the right order, and they will be able to see the larger picture of what I was doing and believe that it should have a home on the bookshelves of the world.

So if you want to send some good energy out into the universe for me that the manuscript I sent, is the one they want, I'd appreciate it. I've already put a note in my GodBox, basically understanding that at this point, it's all out of my hands...

Thanks for listening.

* * *


  1. You've got my good thoughts - I've been thinking them since I ran into you at the PO yesterday!

  2. Poetry is fluid. It is a water animal and will flow into to the right cup. No worries. You are a good enough writer that the small changes you made won't be wondered at or pondered by anyone but you. Good luck, Kelli. I think it will be a grand slam.


  3. 1-9 yes, but they are dealing with Kelli Agodon's poems, so that increases the odds considerably!

    "I was chosen/I was chosen?"

    That just cracked me up--so subtle a difference when you add the question mark: that's what good poetry is all about, the kind of poetry YOU write and will get ANOTHER book (and soon) for writing that kind of poetry.

    You do not have to be the ugliest of the ugly dolls, Kel. Be the pink one or the sparkly one, because no one in the end is the judge of your work but you. F them if they pass you by this time--tell yourself "their loss" because it is true.

    Meanwhile, I'm crossing all my fingers and toes for you to be chosen. Put it out of your mind. You sent the "right" mss. If a few poems need to be moved around or cut, they will work with you.

  4. I will sacrifice something (maybe a radish or two?) to my pagan poetry gods. Meanwhile, have a glass of wine, a walk around the neighborhood, and buy yourself some beautiful flowers at a farmer's market. You're wonderful!

  5. Good luck. I like your odds. Hope your manuscript is chosen.

  6. Ronda, seeing you in the P.O. yesterday was my good sign. Thank you as always for your good thoughts, and see you Tuesday night (at J's!)

    Rebecca, I love that "the right cup." Thank you dearly, you are such a friend.

    Marty-- Yes, the ! ?'s in life! Thanks as always for your ongoing incredible support. See you Tuesday (am!) (Looks as if my Tuesday will be poetfilled!)

    Erin- I like your sacrifical vegetables. Wine & flowers always help. Thanks for dropping me a note, these have all made me feel better.

    January--I like those odds too. I hope my scratch poetry lottery ticket wins. 1 in 10 is a winner... Thanks for your note!

  7. See you Tuesday -- can't wait to write with you!


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