Monday, April 16, 2012

Write Bloody Finals: How to Compile a Poetry Manuscript in 2 Weeks

A week ago I got out of yoga to see I had a voicemail from Meaghan Ford. Meaghan and I had both been working for Mass LEAP on Louder Than A Bomb, Mass., so I assumed she was reaching out in event-related panic, but she was actually calling to tell me that we're both finalists in the 2012 Write Bloody book contest!

This contest is incredibly competitive, and I'm pleasantly surprised and honored to have made it this far. All of the other writers who I know (or know of) are staggeringly talented, and it feels great to be in their company.

We all need to turn in a manuscript of 40 poems and a YouTube video (since all WB authors are required to perform/tour) on April 30th. 

Two weeks to come up with a manuscript and video that I'm not embarrassed by? Sure, why not.

After not sleeping for three days, tossing and turning with line-edits running through my brain, I brought every non-awful poem I could find on my hard-drive over to my bff Sam Cha's house. We laid them out all over the floor and drank Old Chub while his daughters (for whom I'd brought over a cake [requested earlier via phone by Ada, age 3], and who also promptly, in frosting-induced mania, knocked the entire cake onto the floor) played the "island game," stepping and jumping between the poems as we arranged and cut and rearranged them into a whole hopefully greater than its individual parts.

tentative sections/chapters, post 6-hour chocolate cake and beer fueled ordering frenzy

Maybe it's the yoga, or maybe it's getting older, but I'm feeling pretty zen about this whole thing. No matter what, it's an honor (and encouraging) to make the Finals. I'm looking at this as a personal challenge, not a competition against other artists. I have two weeks to make what I can with what I have, something I'm proud of, that I feel represents me as an artist. It's a project, and I love projects.

One thing about the competition that makes the middle-school fat-kid in me feel a little queazy is the video component, which counts for 20% of the final score. It's rated by judges' votes, but also by how many likes it gets on YouTube. I'm confident in my performance abilities, but I was not a popular kid, so whenever anything is judged by how many people like it, my immediate bodily reaction is suffocating terror (nobody likes me! nobody will ever like me!). At least I can recognize this pattern now (maturity!), which helps to ameliorate it in itself. 

Caleb and I have a plan for a simple video, which I'll post on April 30th. All I can do is make the best thing I can, put it out, and see what happens. 

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