Friday, October 7, 2011

Sophomore Slump

I really am wondering about the sophomore slump.  From all appearances and signs, it looks to me as if I am going through exactly that.  The realm of film has a lot of evidence to back up the notion of an artist's second effort, especially those of directors, is less than stellar or are somehow decidedly more difficult to create.  In my case, I see the same patterns.  

My second chapbook was probably published a year too soon.  Along those same ideas, I am fearful the manuscript I have out making the rounds (Sailing This Nameless Ship) is simply not good enough.  I had a major flash of success, getting some 20 or so poems published from the manuscript in a relatively short period of time.  2009-2010 was a really great time for me as far as that manuscript goes, but now, it has been almost a year and a half since any other poems from the manuscript have been accepted for publication.  It’s as if the manuscript has stalled out. 

Then there is my new flight of fancy, the new manuscript I have been toying with for a little while now, which may be just that---a distraction.  I know the pattern well.  I get about 90% finished with something and then I can’t easily bring myself to finish the last 10%.  I get restless and move on to something else.  For a long time I have been trying to understand why I do this.  I wish I had a definitive answer, but I really think I am afraid to finish something because I don’t want to let anything go once and for all.  I think I have a need to hang on to things, even after it’s time to let them go and allow myself to move on. 

Then there is my current lack of writing, poems only coming in drips and drabs, rather than my usual trickle.  I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s related to what I am talking about today.  Even when I am not writing much of anything good, I am usually still writing.  However, I think I am both stuck on the idea my second manuscript needs to move forward before I can, and the idea that I am afraid to really finish anything concrete or measurable.  I know poetry is a thing one should not measure.  I am referring to the idea of completing a thing as opposed to measuring the worth of quality or quantity.

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