Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Dilemma

I received a message from the editor at Silver Boomer Books this morning. She would like to include a patriotic poem I'd submitted for their new anthology A Quilt of Holidays. 

It's always nice to find news of an acceptance. But this one left me with a decision to make. The Flag Day poem I submitted is 51 lines. The editor would like to reduce it to 11 lines by using only the opening and closing stanzas.

My first thought was that is like eating a sandwich with no meat in the middle. She wants to cut 41 lines of my precious words, lines I'd labored over.  No writer likes to give up words, so a decision needs to be made.

I must decide if the pluses are greater than the minuses. Who do I hurt most by either withdrawing it or allowing it to be published as is? It's not a great scholarly work by any means, but it's my piece and so it's important to me. I've read the version the editor wants to use. It does work, although the first verse is 6 lines and the second one only 5. That bothers me. In the full poem, there was a mixture.

Editors sometimes hold out the carrot on a stick, ready to pull it back pretty fast if the writer is not in agreement with the proposal. The writer can make a choice, but it's the editor who has the upper hand. Still, I can also negotiate a bit with the editor. Because editors are of varied personalities, just like writers, we don't know if they are even willing to have the back and forth conversation needed. Even so, i'ts worth a try but needs to be done with some finesse and without the writer acting defensive. It's difficult to be objective about our own writing, but we'll get a lot farther in negotiating if we are.

As for my situation--I think I am going to try to add one more line to the second stanza so that the verses are more balanced, then present it to the editor. If she likes it, then I'll sign the contract. I still have the lengthier poem that can be submitted elsewhere and I'll be published in more anthology. I think I just solved my dilemma.

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