Creating a Clean Manuscript
For weeks, I’ve been working with a manuscript made up of my editors’ original papers all marked up with four different people’s edits. Having already entered all the changes in to the computer, what I had in front of me no longer reflected what the actual poems were. I needed to print out a clean manuscript. When we’re in the midst of working on a book, at times we need to stop and take stock of where we’re at. How is it shaping up? What else needs to be written? Now that you can see the words without all the pen marks, is there more editing? With one hundred and fourteen poems printed out, I went by a print shop and bought neon orange and lime green sheets of paper to stand in for section breaks and holes still needing to be filled. It was a relief to take out all the old manuscript sheets, which I’ll be keeping in case I need to refer to them later, and replace them with poems on clean white paper not marked up (yet). With this manuscript in hand, I have a better idea of where I’m at and what else still needs to be done.
Though not all authors need a visual representation of what still needs to be done, I like having something in my hands to look at. It is, probably, the last time I’ll print out the poems in this way. After writing the last sixteen poems, I’ll review the manuscript again and then start designing the book on the computer. It’s hard not to start the page layout now, but once a poetry book is designed, any changes have to be made twice: to the design file and the original Word document. If the poetry is nearly in its final form before I start laying it out as a book, the work will be much easier in the end. It’s fun to see the book coming along in this way. Even when life gets busy and I don’t have a lot of time to give to it, I find encouragement taking little steps so I at least know I’m getting somewhere. Creating a clean manuscript was a huge step in this process as I look forward to getting the book into final form.