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.