Finish Line

In school you know that your essay will be as good as it will ever be on the day it is due. After you hand it in you will move on to future essays, that may be better or worse. Even in Graduate School, you have this feeling of completion. You know the day your thesis is due on. You know that you have several opportunities to revise it with the help of others before then. When you hand it in, as finished as it can be, and the whole thing is bound, between hardcovers. You have a feeling of accomplishment.

The version of Victims of Ted Bundy I handed in on the last week of school, felt complete to me. I had been revising some of the poems for over a year. Within a few weeks of graduating, Jeanne Duval editions would offer to publish a portion of that manuscript as a chapbook. Things seemed to come to come together naturally.

Then I started looking into getting the manuscript as a whole published, I discovered one important fact right away, my manuscript was not quite long enough. 4-15 pages too short, depending on the publisher.  I did not know how to make it longer. I had included all the confirmed victims, even a couple of witnesses. There was no obvious place to add length.  So I submitted it to three places, knowing it was too short. I was not shocked when they said no.

I thought of various ways to lengthen it. Some people suggested including pictures, others an essay. People even mentioned artificially bulking it up, with information that didn’t really work.  I got a job, became busy, and just let things be.

When we moved in May, and things settled down again, I found myself refocusing on the manuscript, returning to my research and writing. Finding new details to include. I also focused on some victims that were most likely killed by Bundy, but there is not quite enough evidence to day for certain.

However, after finishing that major revision, I am faced with another issue. How do I know when the edits to that revision are done? Will it suddenly, 10 edits it, feel finished? I have two people reviewing the poems now, and I find myself re-working them a little bit every couple weeks. However in grad school I got very accustomed to a great number of people reviewing my work. To having a mass stamp of approval on it, before releasing it.

I have still workshop-ed individual poems and even without work shopping I always feel like I knew when they are ready, because at a certain point I start to submitting them to literary magazines. After they find a published home, I know can leave the poem alone, that the poem has reached the point where it is mature.

With the Bundy poems they are not written to stand on their own, they are written to be read in the context of each other. The poems all interact thematically. They build a fractured narrative together, and. Which makes the whole process even more challenging, one edit can effect another poem entirely, or the tone of the manuscript as a whole. So it is hard for me to know when it is finished, or even when it may be close



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