Organizing a Poetry Collection: What I Learned

As I’m sure you know, I’m hard at work on my upcoming debut poetry collection Inside a Writer’s Head. Since initally deciding to make this collection and amassing all the poems into one Google doc, I’ve learned a few things.

1. Don’t pick categories first.

This might be more relevant to collections that are already topic-specific. Inside a Writer’s Head is a collection of poems written about writing, so they have that theme in common.

I made the mistake of grouping poems together by topics when I was putting them into the Google doc. I had no idea how I wanted the poems arranged when I did this. I didn’t know which poem would open the collection, which would close it. I created buckets without knowing if I’d use them or how many poems would be in each bucket.

This made it harder for me to move forward because the poems were already “organized,” so I wasn’t sure how to “reorganize” them to make a cohesive collection.

2. Do play around with the order.

Move the poems around. Try different poems at the start of the collection, at the end. See what goes together and what you don’t like. What that means will depend on your purposes.

I have a few poems I paired together to create a humorous effect, or because they had a similar implication in some of the lines, or because they gave some clarification to each other.

I’m still not done doing this. I’m much happier with this draft over the previous one, though.

3. Don’t be afraid to cut, combine, or otherwise change the poems in the collection.

I had three poems about my novel-in-progress. They didn’t fit the collection. They would’ve needed some explanation and context and I didn’t want to interrupt the collection and the flow of the poems in order to add that. So I cut them. I didn’t want to, not really, but I did it anyway to improve cohesivity and order.

I had two poems that were very similar thematically, such that they were almost two versions of the same poem. So I made them one poem. A couple other poems needed lines cut or some other changes to be made.

You want the poems to individually be the best they can be. You want the collection as a whole piece to be the best it can be. For that to happen, you will have to make changes and edits. Also, just because you cut lines or a whole poem doesn’t mean you can’t still use it or that it has no merit. But you have to recognize when it doesn’t fit in the collection or the poem.

4. Do make the collection what and how you like it.

This is your piece of art, own it. If you’re not happy with it, it won’t matter how happy everyone else is. Everyone else could think it the best collection in the world, but that won’t make you happy with it.

Take control over your creative product, make it what you want, make it how you want. It’s in your name, you need to own it.

(That’s actually one of my reasons for self-publishing.)

 

I’ve only just finished a second draft. I’m not done crafting the collection, reordering the poems, etc. These are four things I’ve found to be important over the last few days when I moved from draft one to draft two.

For anyone looking to make your own poetry collection, I hope this helps.

If you have any questions about organizing your manuscript, Inside a Writer’s Head, or advice for me, put it in the comments! I’d love to discuss this with you.

Poetry Collection Update

I last discussed my poetry collection in August. I tried working on it a few times and didn’t know where to start.

At the time, I had a basic grouping of poems based on similar topics under the larger topic of writing about writing.

Now, two months later, I’m hard at work to finish editing and publish the collection in or by November.

Inside a Writer’s Head is a collection about the ups and downs of being a writer, facing writer’s block, and moving toward goals.

I need your help to make this happen. I can do the editing and the formatting just fine. That only takes time. Self-publishing services cost money. After publishing the collection I plan to market it on Facebook and Twitter. That also costs money.

For that reason, I started a GoFundMe page and I’m open to commissions. If you can’t donate or commission me, please like and/or share this Facebook post so I can reach more people.

Thank you all for reading this and helping me make Inside a Writer’s Head a reality.

Adventures in Meldrick

I have found myself thinking about Adventures in Meldrick, the card game I am developing. As I mentioned last month, it is still in beta and I need to finish the card database.

Currently, all the cards are handwritten and on half of 3×5 lined index cards. I want to change this. A friend of mine has worked with me in the past, suggesting ideas for the card design and game mechanics. She would likely be willing to help again if I asked. Some aspects of the game can be worked out remotely, such as card design, but most of the problems are related to the game mechanics and the play time.

The game is still Monopoly. Not literally, of course, but due to the length of play time. I have played Adventures in Meldrick numerous times with my friends and family, but not even once did we finish. I’m working on changing the rules, mechanics, etc. to shorten it. Most people dislike long games simply because they are so time-consuming. I want to avoid that.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about making new, printed cards on cardstock. When the game is ready, I would like to make and sell it myself, though it is possible this will make it more expensive. It will be a while because I still need to fix some of the problems and edit the rules.

I plan on making posts about Adventures in Meldrick, and once it’s released, I will make a page on my website with purchasing information and links to FAQs, rules, instructions, etc. I want all the information about and for the game to be easily accessible. I might even make the rule card(s) or booklet optional since all of the information in it will be online.

As I work on this game, there will be more information. I won’t update this post, but I will make more posts in the future about it, detailing progress, specifics about the game, etc.

Mystical Warriors: My Novel-in-Progress

Disclaimer: This project is on a temporary haitus as I adjust to my workload with Praxis, running this blog, running Over the Invisible Wall, and working more hours at Walmart. I will be finishing it. I will come back to it.

I mentioned Mystical Warriors in a post last month. I shared how far I was into writing this to-be novel. Since then I have shared two backstory pieces, Thief!, and Befriending Vinny (parts one and two).

What I neglected to do, however, was share a bit about the novel and what the story even is. Today, I am going to fix that.

Mystical Warriors is the working title of the project and is the same name as a video game in the story world. One half of the setting is a fictional version of the real world. The other half is inside the video game.

Mara Williamson, James Richards, Drake Meltzin, and Vinny Kituma are four long time friends who live in the same neighborhood and go to the same school. It was a normal Friday afternoon comprised of homework and video games at Mara’s house after school. Until it wasn’t. Unexpectedly, the four friends find themselves inside the video game, Mystical Warriors. How will they return to the real world and their lives?

When I started this story, I knew it bore basic similarities to the manga and anime Sword Art Online. At the same time, I had the idea that led to this story long before I knew anything about anime.

About ten to twelve years ago, my aunt and uncle went on vacation to France. During that time, my two cousins stayed at my family’s house for the week. I invented a LARP-like game, as is common for children to do, with almost the same premise as Mystical Warriors. My cousins had to beat the video game to return to the real world, but they were brought into the video game to help out the people and various creatures solve some problem. For Mystical Warriors, being in the video game is the problem.

That is the gist of the project. If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll answer as best I can so long as it will not spoil the story to do so.

“Hair Dye” (Poem)

Recently I dyed my hair. That is the subject of this poem, as you probably guessed from the title.

This was written 21 July 2018. It is day four of my current poetry writing streak.

My hair was meant to be blue

But instead I’m not sure if it’s true,

for it didn’t turn out

as I expected ‘twould.

It’s better than my brother,

who has no blue hair at all,

Despite the fact we tried

to make it so earlier tonight.

Current Projects (as of 7 July 2018)

I have quite the list of projects I am currently working on. Blog posts on these various topics will come as progress is made or using material already produced for or related to them. In no particular order:

 

  • Mystical Warriors, my novel in progress, started July 2015. I’m currently at about 30k words and still in the early part of the first half. I have the second half generally plotted and know a few things that happen in the near future.
  • This blog. I’m posting every day, with help from the scheduling feature on WordPress. I’m trying to have content ready in advance in case I need to take a break. If that becomes impossible, I will still post at least once a week.
  • Over the Invisible Wall. I’m working with my friend Justine to post to the blog Facebook page once a week and to the blog twice a month.
  • Millstadt News Magazine. I wrote for the July issue and I’m working on a piece for the August issue. I’m hoping to continue writing for the publication, but it depends if space is available.
  • A flag blanket. I’m crocheting a blanket made up of 36 flags from different countries. Right now I have about 12 finished.
  • Inside a Writer’s Head, my poetry collection. All of the poems are collected, they just need reorganized, formatted, edited, etc. before the collection can be published.
  • N’Zembe, the star system I’m building. This has a lot packed into it. I’m building a whole star system from scratch with ten inhabited planets and potentially some inhabited moons.
  • Various short stories.
  • Adventures in Meldrick, a card game. The game is good conceptually, but needs more beta testing to work out some of the problem areas in gameplay. I need to finish making the card database so I can keep track of what cards I have made, how many, etc. The plan is for it to have some trading aspects, but that would be an optional feature.
  • Illustrating Mystical Warriors. I only have one completed illustration and have yet to start the next. Some of the characters need reference drawings before I can do this.