Manuscript Anxiety

Illustration of a ScribeAs my wife points out, artistry is a balancing act. I have been working on the manuscript portion of the creative thesis for my MFA--essentially, a book-length collection, composed of poems I wrote during my study in the program. Having scrutinized, selected, and arranged this body of work, I now find that the highly critical part of my character has become over-activated. Setting down to write new poems, a thought goes off in the back of my mind: will this poem be good enough to include in the manuscript? It is an absolute creativity killer.

And so, the dance between precision and wild abandon continues, albeit on a new dance floor. I can only assume poets working on their ninth and tenth books have somehow figured out how to resist this urge--to scrutinize when one needs to be devil-may-care free. This, more than any single element of craft, must be what breeds longevity in the arts--some ability to operate within the almost schizophrenic nature of artistry. Now that my manuscript is more-or-less assembled, and in celebration of my conscious rebellion against taking myself, and my body of work, too seriously, I am off to attempt to write a deliberately "bad" poem. The worse, the better. Such challenges goad the duende.

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