Here we are--the last part of the publishing process for my poetry collection, Solving the World's Problems--and I have a confession to make: It's not really about the collection. Rather, this post is about what happens next.
The first few years as an editor on the Market Book series, I found that I kept repeating a cycle on the books. I would work like mad on them until the book was sent to the printer, and then, I'd go into a sort of depressed vacuum. For weeks, I'd have trouble completing the simplest tasks until finally I'd get back into a groove on the next big project, the next big book.
As a father of five, I'm not saying that creating books is the equivalent of giving birth to children, but there is a kind of postpartum period that can occur in book publishing if you let it. After all, you spend months on a project that gives you tremendous purpose and focus, and then, bam! It's gone. All that's left is a void.
Moving Past the Poetry Collection
After a few years as a Market Book editor, I finally figured out how to get past this depression--or at least, I learned how to soften the blow. Here's how:
- Have next steps in place before the book goes to printer. If I wait until the book is sent out to get those next steps set up, I've found that I'm usually already past the event horizon and being sucked into the black hole.
- Avoid considering the book the end. For me, I've learned to consider the book a rock on the path of writing; it's not the finish line. The book may be the peak of a mountain or the top of a hill, but it's not THE peak to end all peaks.
- Enjoy the process. I always try to remind myself what got me to create the book in the first place: my love of writing. I love to write and revise and create and recreate. So I've found when I focus on that process of creation that it's easier to let go of what's been done in the past.
Get feedback on your poetry!
When I think about my development as a writer, I can pinpoint moments when I've had breakthroughs on my own. Maybe by experimenting words or reading new writers or even studying the lives of other creative individuals. However, many breakthroughs happened when I received feedback from others who were able to identify my strengths and weaknesses more objectively than me. Receive that type of feedback in the Advanced Poetry Writing workshop. It may be called advanced, but it's really for all levels of poets--anyone who's searching to learn more about how their poems are being read by other people.
So What's Next?
For me, the next steps have included promoting the poetry collection, but more importantly, I've been writing and submitting new poems that aren't in the collection. Focusing on new work has been exciting, and it's given me something else to focus on even as Solving the World's Problems heads off into the world.
That ship has sailed, and while we'll keep in touch, what's most important to me now are these new poems that need help finding their full potential. Eventually, I hope to find a few of them homes. And who knows? Maybe in another few years I'll have another collection ready to make bold claims and dazzle the world.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and the author of Solving the World's Problems (recently published by Press 53). He edits books, creates blog posts, writes a column for Writer's Digest magazine, edits a free weekly newsletter, and other fun writing-related activities. Voted Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere in 2010, Brewer also curates the Insta-poetry series for Virginia Quarterly Review. He's married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.
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