Most poets organize their collections by writing a ton of poems and then picking out the ones that share a common theme.

I'm not like other poets (cliché and cringey, I know. I'm just such a special fucking snowflake :P)

But I did the complete opposite of the norm for my first poetry collection, and it's been intereeeesting.

It all started in the Fall of 2017 when I wrote a poem titled "A Question 'Bout the End We'll See". I won't share it here because it's really quite awful and needs to be revised extensively. But that one poem sparked an idea, one that had been brewing since 2015. This collection (going by the amazing, original name of Poetry Book #1) is intimately tied to my personal journey over the last five years though it also touches upon religion, politics, current events, and linguistics (my field of study at college).

I structured the collection a few months later by writing ideas for individual poems on note cards and grouped them together based on shared ideas. I had five segments titled Innocence, Love, Faith, Knowledge, and Language (later changed to Thought). I wrote many poems for it in the summer of 2018, but then got busy with school and writing and publishing The One-Sided Coin. I can be a neglectful mother to my poetry at times.

Since this idea still means so much to me, I've doubled down on it the last couple of months. No matter how desperately I've wanted to work on The One-Sided Coin's sequel, I've promised myself that I can't work on it till I've made significant process on Poetry Book #1. And that's helped SO much. I've written/revised over 15 poems in the last couple of months.

Most importantly, I've restructured the manuscript. The segments might have been beneficial for organizing my thoughts at first but they've become a hindrance because many of the poems don't fit into those five categories.

This collection is partially autobiographical. It spoke of the specific time from fall 2015 to summer 2018, but as more time has passed, I've wanted to include more recent events (and we all know that there's been a lot to talk about). My perspective on many things has changed so the focus of the collection has followed suit.

I've had to restructure the collection. Back to the note cards:

I wrote the title of every poem I had written so far onto its own note card since I don't own a printer that I can use to easily print out the poems themselves. I had the poems opened on my computer so I could look at them if I needed to. There were 48 poems in total.

I did away with the segments completely because that type of structure no longer works for this manuscript. I organized the poems that really spoke of a specific time in my life chronologically and structured the other poems around them based on their thematic connections. That wasn't great, so I reorganized them again. There is still a chronological order but it's not as tight. I threw some poems out and re-included some that I had taken out ages ago. I'm now at 47 poems for the manuscript.

I'm not fully satisfied with this order though it could possibly be because not all the poems have been written yet. There are definitely gaps in the manuscript. I have at least eight new poems I need to write from scratch along with many I need to revise.

Publication Plans?

Some days I want to traditionally publish this manuscript and other days I'm like "Nah, I'll self-publish". Ugh! I'm so conflicted. I don't know what to do!

I stopped submitting to literary magazines a couple of years ago for a variety of reasons: I kept getting rejections, it would take months for them to get back to me, and I wasn't able to share my poems any other way (like on Instagram) because they would be "published" and no literary magazine would want them. But now I'm thinking I should submit again. I'm a better poet, and I have some poems that I believe are publication-worthy quality. Even if I self-publish this collection, it may be beneficial to submit to magazines. Idk. There's so much I don't understand still.

I guess you were wanting concrete information rather than a rant, but that's all I have. If you have advice, please comment down below.

Thank you so much for reading! I'll be back soon with more updates :)

#amwriting #poetry #poetrycollection #revision #publication #litmagazines

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This is year is going to look a lot different.

For the first time since I was three years old, I won't be going to school in the fall. I'm so ecstatic! I want to dedicate a lot more time to my writing now that I don't have to worry about classes, homework, research, clubs, and a job on top of that. It was so much. There was always something on the horizon to be worried about, but now after my workday, I can relax.

My writing process is changing, and I have big plans like working on THREE different projects. I want to accomplish so much more this year than ever before. Bring. It. On.

I work about 25 to 30 hours a week at my new job, which is actually my ideal scenario. With my current living situation, I only need to work 30 hours weekly to support myself financially, and I'm dedicating the 10 other hours in the work week to writing. These 10 hours can be applied to anything related to my writing career including working on my projects, marketing The One-Sided Coin, updating my website, etc..

I have a planner where I write what time I start writing as a way to "clock-in" and I do the same for "clocking-out". It's already helped a lot with focusing. I can't believe how much I can accomplish in 10 hours a week! I wasn't even close to working that amount while in school. If I keep this up, I'll be able to accomplish so much more this year than in previous ones.

I've always been interested in working on several projects at once but have never had the capacity to do so. I feel that this year I just might. I have my poetry collection and both a prequel and a sequel to The One-Sided Coin calling my name.

My goal is to start the first draft of The One and the Other Volume Two for this November's National Novel Writing Month. Though I don't always participate in the way originally intended, I like to use NaNo months to jump start projects like I did with the Labeth prequel back in April. If I want to start writing the second book in The One and the Other series this November, there's quite a few things I need to do before then.

I want to write this sequel differently than The One-Sided Coin. For that book, I outlined some before writing a quick first draft in three months. I planned to completely rewrite that first draft, and I did. I thought that this process would allow me to have a cleaner second draft, but there was still much needed rewriting afterwards. It took me five years to write The One-Sided Coin (granted there were some periods of inactivity), and I want to write this sequel a lot faster. This time around, I'm going to outline extensively before writing. Then, I'll do my version of the zero draft, where for each scene I summarize what is going to happen. That way, I have every single step figured out in the manuscript before I bring it to life.

To start the first daft November 1, I need to:

  1. Finish the Series Bible for The One and the Other

  2. Outline TOATO 2

  3. Zero Draft TOATO 2

That's a lot. It might be too much, but I need to challenge myself more to see what I'm capable of. Now that I have a lot more time on my hands to write, I might be able to do this.

I told myself I wouldn't work on TOATO2 till I made significant process on my first full-length poetry collection. Since the beginning of July, I've written 11 new poems and revised 3 old ones. I would call that some significant process if I may say so myself!

I have one more poem to write before I restructure the collection. The main focus of the collection has shifted, calling for a new structure. I'll make a separate blog post detailing that process soon.

I haven't touched this project since I finished the first draft in May, but I printed out a copy of the manuscript today and it looks so great! After every draft, I print out the manuscript and read through it, marking it up with edits I want to make. Since I'm moving up the timeline for TOATO2, that project will take up more of my focus than this one, but I do hope to finish the read through before Nov 1st.

Whew! I have my work cut out for me for the next couple of months. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again, I'm so excited for this next year! I can't believe I'm starting my first sequel. I've been dreaming about this for years. This is so cool!

Thanks for reading and following along on my journey! We'll keep in touch, and stay safe!

#amwriting #fantasyseries #WIP #theoneandtheother #poetry #theonesidedcoin

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  • Mary K Gowdy

I don't know how it feels like this year will never end and yet it's gone by quickly. Compared to last summer, I feel like this one is going by faster, especially June. June just came and went in a blur. I was busy all month scrambling to find a job and a place to live since my original plans were postponed due to covid.

But anyway, it's already halfway through July and I feel like this blog is overdue for an update.

If you haven't heard me shouting about this from all my social media channels yet, my first novel The One-Sided Coin has been published! It's been out for a month now and people have actually bought it! I was worried that I would release it to crickets, and while it hasn't been a overwhelming symphony, it's been a success and better than I had hoped!

You can read more about it here or watch the book trailer.

I'm also working on something special related to The One-Sided Coin that I hope to share in the coming months. Keep your eyes peeled!

As for the rest of June. . . I wrote one poem. It was a very dry month creatively. While I managed to write the first draft of what was supposed to be a novella in April and May, I just got overwhelmed in June by a lot of things and didn't have the energy nor the desire to create anything. I chose to accept this rather than fight against it. You can't always be in the midst of a productive season, and I needed to listen to what my mental health was telling me which was to take a break. It would've only made things worse to make myself feel bad about not writing.

So I've just been handling personal things but FINALLY the creative energy is coming back. Now that The One-Sided Coin is out, it's time to work on the sequel, right?

Well. . .

Don't worry, the sequel is going to happen, but I've been working on and off on my first full length poetry collection for about two years now and I'm still farther than I would like from completing it. I can't seem to juggle writing poetry and writing a novel at the same time because I always end up focusing more on the novel. Poetry is much more emotionally and mentally demanding to write than prose, and this full-length collection is especially difficult to work on. I've written all of the poems that come easily and am now left with the ideas that are harder to put on paper. Since it's so difficult, I've put off working on this project in the past, but it is important to me and I need to finish it.

I've told myself that I cannot start working on The One and the Other Volume Two (the project I've been dreaming about for the last 2-3 years) till I make SIGNIFICANT progress on my poetry collection. I don't quite know what that is. It could be that I work on this till I am too burnt out on poetry to write any more, or it could be I can only stop once the first draft of every poem is written. I don't know how many poems that will take, and I have also been revising old poems along with writing new ones. Not to mention I'm considering vastly changing the structure of this collection as well.

I want this collection to be ready to send to publishers by the end of the year, but I don't know if that's possible or how much work it will take. This might have to be my main project till it is finished, which makes me sad because I REALLY want to dive right into TOATO2.

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote the first draft of a novella which is a prequel to The One-Sided Coin. The prequel is about the character Labeth and occurs 180 years before the events in The One-Sided Coin. What was supposed to be a 20,000 word novella ended up becoming a 43,402 word short novel. I project that this book will end up being 50k-55k words once I'm done because I tend to have to add a lot of words to flesh scenes out. I'm thinking of printing out a copy so I can begin re-reading it during my lunch breaks at my new job.

That's all I have to say for now. I'm writing poetry till further notice, which means that I will have a lot more excerpts to post on my Instagram now. You should follow me there @marykgowdy if you want delicious sneak peaks into my poetry collection along with other unrelated poems. Here are some samples:

If you want more regular updates, you can sign-up for my monthly newsletter. I share exclusive poems and news about my writing projects, and you can get the first 50 pages of The One-Sided Coin for free just for signing up!

We'll keep in touch. Stay safe!

#amwriting #poetry #debutnovel #theonesidedcoin #fantasy

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