How I Finished my Poetry Manuscript in 2 Weeks

I chose and gathered together the poems for Inside a Writer’s Head several months ago. I tried a few times after that to organize the collection to no avail.

Part of that was my own fault, for trying to organize the collection while choosing the poems, but I also had no idea where to start.

Cue the guiding hand of the Praxis program. I was only one week into Module one when I started thinking about my portfolio project for this month. I talked with Hannah Frankman, the module one advisor, about my goals for the program and how it played into my longer term goals. I initially wanted to finish and publish Inside a Writer’s Head for my project but was advised that a better project would be to market it.

I had my work cut out for me. It was hard at first, and I had to do some research to get some ideas.

To help eliminate the block I had created, I deleted all the section names I’d added. Then I started reading and moved poems around as I did so. I familiarized myself with the poems such that I got ideas for sequences and poems to put together. As I read through the collection more and moved the poems around more, it got easier.

I amazed myself by finishing the manuscript in one week instead of two.

In order to do this, I put my other projects on hold so the poetry collection would be ready for this month.

I also scrapped my initial plan of designing the cover myself. I knew it would take me more time than I had to play around with options and create a design I was happy with.

I reached out first to Alexandra Wagner, a Praxis participant in my cohort. She said she would be unable to complete it by the time I needed it. I asked for suggestions of who to work with and found Jacob Beman. He has a website where he sells clothes with designs he created, and I liked the style and nature of his work. He agreed to work with me and did a really great job on my book cover. I reviewed his work here.

Three things allowed me to have a self-publishing-ready poetry collection: Focused work, a deadline, and finding the right designer.

If you can focus on the project you intent to complete instead of jumping project to project you will surprise yourself how quickly you can complete it.

The deadline for completing the project seemed really tight and super hard to meet. I pushed myself to finish quickly and surprised myself with the speed of my work. If I hadn’t had the extra push to finish the collection before November, it would have taken me longer. If it had been less urgent, I wouldn’t have been as focused or as driven to complete it as quickly as I did.

Find a designer whose work you could see being a great fit for your vison of your book cover and who is excited to work with you. Both of those make for a great experience working with that person and lead to you getting a result you love.

Be sure to check out my Patreon. For $5 you get early access to part three of the Diary of Kaashif Sarwan and another post later this month as well. There are other rewards at every tier, so be sure to check it out!

A Hodge Podge of my Knowledge of the MBTI

The inspiration for this post is from this article I encountered today.

The MBTI, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is a popular personality test. I’ve taken it and shared my results on my about page, INTX. I find the concept fascinating, even though it’s pseudoscience.

The test was designed by Isabel Briggs Myers building on work her mother Katherine Cook Briggs did. Neither had backgrounds in psychology. Myers was an author, so I would argue she had some understanding of people, but that is still not the same. They built loosely on the work of Carl Jung and his concept of cognitive functions, though Jung himself did not support the MBTI.

As far as using the MBTI as a tool for self-discovery goes, it may or may not have results that accurately reflect the test taker. I can think of a few different people I know who either test differently every time or don’t think they really fit any of the types. I found it fascinating, mostly because the details about my “type” seemed so accurate, to a superficial degree.

People change over time as they learn, grow, and have more experiences. Personality is not a concrete, unchangeable aspect of an individual. The MBTI seems to purport itself to be an unchanging assignment to one of sixteen boxes.

According to the article I read today, the MBTI was intended to be used by companies to place employees in roles they were better suited for. By placing people in a specific box according to their test answers, they could determine that Sally would be better in customer service and Joe would be better in programming. This could be wildly off base, however, depending on other factors and prior knowledge. For example, I’m very introverted and favor thinking over feeling, so a company using the test might think I’d be a bad fit for a customer service role. In actuality, I enjoy customer service and helping people; I’ve had Walmart customers tell me I’m the most helpful associate they’ve interacted with and my manager said I was excellent at it.

I’m fascinated by the MBTI and personality tests in general. I’m adding the books mentioned in the article to my reading list for further examination, so I will likely discuss this again in the future.

In the meantime, share your type and thoughts on the MBTI in the comments!

My Trip to Millstadt

Last week I used my day off to take a trip to Millstadt, IL. If you didn’t know, I’m writing for the Millstadt News magazine once a month. This month I was researching the old drug store. The problem: I couldn’t find the information I needed online. So I drove about forty minutes one way to go to the Millstadt Library and interview two of the pharmacy’s former owner’s children.

I learned a few things:

  1. Know ahead of time if a certain library has the necessary resources available by calling them or looking it up online. I wasted a good deal of my day sitting in the Millstadt Library, unable to get any further in my research. A different library had the old newspapers I wanted to look at, but I didn’t have time to go there.
  2. Plan for an interview by having questions you think you want to ask. Some of these may not need asking during the interview, depending on what you learn and what you already know about who you’re interviewing or the topic you’re trying to learn about. Going into my interview, I had questions based on misinformation because my research didn’t give me a clear picture of things. This is okay. Ask new questions that you think of based on what you learn.
  3. Be sure to ask if you can record the interview so you can double check details and will not miss anything. I forgot to ask about recording my interview. I know I lost some interesting details that were shared because I was in the middle of writing down the previous thought.

It was a good trip, worthwhile overall. For the amount of time I spent, though, I would have liked it to be a bit more productive. If I take writing-related trips in the future, to Millstadt or elsewhere, I will be better prepared as best I can. As this was my first, I went in rather blind.