How to Make a Manuscript - post #2
~Never show it to someone you don't trust
Love it fiercely: protect it from anyone who might abuse it or stifle it, including yourself; the negative nancies in your head and in the world, tell them to STFU.
~Think about it often
Think about it while sitting in traffic. Think about it while taking walks. Think about it while falling asleep. Let it know you care even when it isn't physically in front of you.
~Know it intensely
Upside down and right side up, backward and forwards, inside and out: what's been removed, what's remained, how it feels rearranged, scrambled, hand-written in marker on bits of scrap paper, typed on formal pieces of stiff copy paper, in its original state on notebook pages. Where it comes from. Who its poetic ancestors are. Make sure it's new and fresh, but also learned and honoring what's come before.
~Remember, you are not the composer. You are the vessel.
The poems are as-yet-to-exist somewhere in an ether, a creativity ether. When you are humble, quiet and willing enough the creativity channels through you. Since you are a poet, the creativity is expressed as poems. If the creativity goes through someone else, it makes other things. It may be a cook making yummy fresh pasta, a musician who makes a song or a painter who paints a picture. If you mess up and begin to accidentally think that you are the Master and the poems are yours, the poem will be lifeless and cannot work. You are the poem's vessel. You belong to them Be grateful they like you enough to come visit.
If you are letting the perspective of others influence the shape of the manuscript and they are disrepsectful to It or You or the Creativity Ether, DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. The agenda is obviously not, "Help Bridget channel the good poems," the agenda is something else. The sinster nature of this agenda is anywhere from "this threatens me" (perhaps aesthetic-value-wise) to "I want to wield power". Regardless of WHY it is very important that you say, "NO!" BOLD ITALIC UNDERLINE LARGE FONT. The feedback may sound encouraging, "I want you to write good poems..." but if what they say makes you want to quit, give up, doesn't make you feel good, doesn't empower you to the best Vessel you can be, doesn't respect your ability, talent, creativity, your instincts -- then do not listen. They are not your allies in the quest to make a manuscript.
Note: Positive collaborator's feedback goes something like this, "The language in this section is more abstract. In the previous stanza, there so much rich, concrete language. Maybe you could work on a balance for this part?" -or- "I like this but there's something I don't like about the last line. It doesn't fit right to me. I'm not sure, let me read it aloud to you and see if you can tell what I mean." That's pretty nice stuff. Constructive, detailed, introspective, positive.
Feedback that should be ignored, and, further, severely shunned, looks like, "WHAT are you trying to say here? You are making the reader do too much work & I want to give up altogether. I have to wonder, 'Why bother?'" -or- "I hate the fake deep moments in poems and this line is one of them." -or- "I don't even know how to get into this." Not nice, not helpful, not pleasant. As if the criticiser's own work is always final draft work, ready to publish and they've never needed to revise.
Finding helpful support for making a manuscript is like finding a good, positive relationship. No matter how talented the supporter's own work/ how attractive the perspective partner, if it doesn't make you feel good, it's time to move on. Find the person who both challenges you to your best and makes you feel good about doing it.