There came a moment this past weekend–late Saturday afternoon, to be more precise–when I saved a file on my computer and realized: I have a poetry chapbook manuscript here.
It was a pretty nifty moment for me. After attempting to write a few poems as a teenager, I’d pretty much abandoned my poetry practice and become a prose-focused gal. But about five years ago, I decided to give poetry another go. I enrolled in a number of online classes (taught by Matthew Lippman and Sage Cohen), and began incorporating more poetry into my reading practice, too.
Over these past few years, I’ve been encouraged by some positive feedback from poetry editors, and some deeply meaningful poetry publications. It’s been slow-going, however, and I wasn’t sure that I’d ever have a full chapbook (let alone a full collection) completed.
I was motivated to evaluate where my poetry stood by the impending deadline for a chapbook contest. I know that my chances of winning are minuscule. Beyond the possible merit (or lack thereof) of my manuscript, there’s the fact that I’ve already shared the contest guidelines with all of The Practicing Writer‘s readers (and have linked to them again in this post!), thereby doing my part to increase the competition (self-sabotage, anyone?). But this is a rare fee-free chapbook contest, and simply preparing the submission has been a useful learning experience for me. (Next weekend’s project: actually submitting the thing! A bit more proofreading–along with agonizing over sequencing–has to happen first.)
Sure, it’s likely that I’ll need to enter many more competitions before this manuscript becomes a published chapbook. But you know what they say about journeys–each one begins with a single step.
Any of you have experience with preparing poetry chapbooks? Any tips to share?