Drawer Books

I’ve been working on a new schlock novel. My first schlock novel died at the 4/5 mark. And looking at it again, after having started my new schlock novel, I think I would have to replot the whole thing to make it work. I’m a poet, so plot is difficult. Thus it might be my drawer novel. (Note: The new schlock novel is my writing vacation and any professional or consumer issues are not being considered. If I finish it and it has a plot that holds water, then, maybe, I’ll think about something to do with it.)

I used to think my poetry manuscript was a drawer book. I had sent it out and received a good 50-some rejections. Individual poems (20+) had been published, but no one expressed any interest in the book, not even a “nice work, but not for us” scrawled at the bottom of a form rejection note. I stopped sending it out. I’ll focus on The Fucker, I thought. I’ll submit essays. And then DP got a book.

I was really beside myself pleased when his book was accepted. I liked the look of the press, and the man can write like a dream. I was the one who pushed him to start submitting. I beamed at him and bragged to my friends. But of course I’m slightly jealous. Not “I hate you and your book” jealous, but just a wee tiny bit jealous. I think this is normal.

Yesterday DP started badgering me about my poetry manuscript.

“I think you should send it to [former professor].”

“No, I’m waiting to send him my nonfiction manuscript.”

“You should keep sending it out.”

“But I’ve sent it out a zillion times.”

“What would you tell me if I were in your place?” And yesterday I was mad. How could I keep sending it out? I have had no positive feedback on the manuscript as a whole, so something must be the matter with it. Bah. But after some sleep, I reconsidered.

One of the differences between a poetry book and a novel is that although you do have to think about “arc” in a poetry book, you don’t have to worry about plot. If you can write a poem well, and then write another poem well, you have most of a poetry manuscript. So there are arguments for keeping sending it out, especially if individual poems from it have been published.

So I’m taking the Poetry Fucker out of the drawer and am sending it out today. I’m also going to chop it up and sell it for parts (i.e., a chapbook). Poetry manuscripts can take a lot of abuse.

Keep going or throw in the towel?


9 responses to “Drawer Books

  1. It depends on how good (you think) it is, and how much you care. I do have one terminal rejection. I am happy to let it die. It’s the only piece I’ve ever given up on, but I am at peace with that.

    Sara, you are completely different case in point. If Indy said you gotta, you gotta. (did Indy say you gotta?)

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