Although the new manuscript is “finished,” I should clarify that I mean the first draft is “finished,” which means I am almost surely done generating new poems for it.
This is how I work: I write and write and write new pieces, or expand the serial poems, over several months. This is the longest I have spent writing a single manuscript: almost a year to the day since I first made those initial sketches, those “what the hell are these poems about?” sketches. I generally write one project to the exclusion of all others. But for this book, the sections were so discrete that I thought each new section I was writing was a new and different project and so I was loathe to even give those poems any of my time. But I did.
And, now what.
Now I wait. I’ll wait with these poems for a couple of months. I will ask people to read the manuscript and tell me their thoughts. In a few months, when the work stops being “my favorite” or “the best thing I think I could ever write,” then I can go back into it and rework the weak areas. I always know where the weak areas are, even after I write it. Like, how when you date someone, anyone, you immediately identify his flaws, but think, I’m sure it won’t be a big deal—I mean, I love him. But I don’t approach the weak areas until I have thought of solutions to their weaknesses.
And that means I don’t know what to write next. Probably I should write nothing for a while. I should give myself that. Because what do I need with more unpublished manuscripts unless I plan to die young and leave a trove of rough-hewn books behind?