Fears (a book update)

I took some students to hear Sandra Beasley read at another college in town (she was great, by the way), and, to research for the reading, I was perusing some of her work online and her blog. She has some great blogposts on how to promote your work when you have your first book coming out—so helpful!--but when I started reading through them, this thread of panic cinched in me. 

I am terrified that people won’t like it. won’t think it was good enough, will think it’s cliché, disrespectful, too revealing. oh all the things people could think. And not just people, in general, but people that I want to think well of me—mentors, friends, family, students. There will be, at some point, a negative review that I’ll have to face (or maybe I can just not read it?); and, despite years of workshop, I don’t know if my skin is quite so elephant-and-leathercouch thick that I can take, with a smile, a rejection of the entirety of my  life’s work as a poet. 

My book is not meadowlands (is anything meadowlands? Is meadowlands even meadowlands?), but I hope that, when my people read it, they like and understand most of it. I expect to get a few calls from family members asking what a poem means and if a poem is about them (likely, yes), and a few comments from friends that I probably got my theology wrong somewhere or other.  and I’m sure when I’m reading through the actual printed in-my-hands copy for the first time, I’ll bemoan the poem order at the end of section three I was so sure about or wish I’d taken something out or added something in or broken the line here instead of there. 

Revising is never finished—and the thing I am most excited and afraid of is letting this book finish. it was the right time for Keeping Me Still to stop being a manuscript and become a book—it’s complete in itself, and I’m ready to write new things.  I just need to be a little braver about letting go of this first work and giving it over to others—to you, dear readers.


  1. I also didn't like putting an end to revisions back when I was submitting chapbooks. Your work is always great, though, whether it's first-draft or fiftieth-draft and it's a privilege for anyone to read it. :) Theology in poetry is tricky-- I have had people read all kinds of bad theology into my work before, back when I was writing regularly-- that I never intended. I always think it's funny when people get so hung up on a poem's "meaning." I have one friend (I won't say who, but they don't read this blog) who, without fail, always contacted me after a chapbook came out and would have a list of poems she thought were probably about her or this or that and she was almost always wrong. ;) She never meant it in a negative way, of course. She just got really caught up in reading my work autobiographically and sometimes it's not at all or sometimes it is. Everyone is proud of you and I'm sure in the next few years you'll be a visiting writer for the ol' UU. ;)

    1. ah, that is why you are the best! thank you for your vote of confidence!! being a visiting writer at UU is pretty much the goal of my entire writing career, so, of course i would faint or cry if i ever got to read there lol