A long time ago I typed up a huge chunk of the poems that I have written and organized them into Microsoft Word files by theme, with the intention of each file being 30 pages long. (Some poems are over one page long, so that is not 30 POEMS; it is 30 PAGES.)
After that the idea was to publish them at the rate of one book per 6 months or year on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So far I have done this with only one book, FOR THOSE IN SHADOWS which you can get here:
Originally I intended to make each book 50 pages (SHADOWS runs a little over that), but then I figured that much poetry at once might be a bit much. So I lowered the goal to 30 pages.
I have 20 Microsoft Word files full of poetry. Some of these are assorted by theme, like poems about life or writing, while others are compiled together for no connected reason. For example, one of the files is simply called LONGER PIECES for those with poems that go for 4 pages or more. There is another file called A COLLECTION OF COLLECTIONS, which is full of poems combined together by a similar theme.
Lately I started going through these files to see which one I would put out next, when I realized not all of them hit the 30 page mark. On top of that, several poems were repeated between one or more collection. Not acceptable! So this is what I have decided to do:
*List every title from every collection.
*Look for and eliminate duplicates.
*Type up some poems that are still laying around the house in handwritten form so I can flesh out each collection to 30 pages.
I will also add an About the Author page (which will list all my titles) and a Table of Contents page. Both are necessary to make sure the files are an even number of pages. (I believe Amazon and/or B&N both ask for files to be even numbered.) Needless to say, with 20 Microsoft Word files that are all about 30 pages each, this will be a hefty project…but one well worth my time.
Also, I was looking back over FOR THOSE IN SHADOWS, and I realize a couple poems could have used a revision or two. Then again I am well-read enough to know that there are many different schools of thought on this.
Some people believe (like Jack Kerouac) that poetry should be allowed to remain the way it comes out. He called it “automatic writing.” There are those who take it a step further: they believe poetry is a more pure expression of emotion than prose, so to change anything is to censor yourself. I think this stems from the fact that prose is usually trying to tell a story whereas that’s not always the case with poetry. (To Kerouac’s credit, he didn’t think prose should be edited either, so at least the man was consistent…and one hell of a writer.)
I’m not sure where my belief lies. On the one hand, it WOULD be a relief to not have to comb through all those poems and agonize over every line..but on the other side of the coin, I don’t want to cringe with embarrassment because something I wrote is so clumsy that it doesn’t even get anything across to the reader. Who wants to be known for repetitive, cliche-ridden work? Not I!
Whatever may come of the editing process, I know that every long journey starts with the first step. In this case, the first step is eliminating the duplicates.