Last week was a week of mixed emotions about a particular poetry project. Almost three years ago, my agent sent two poetry collections to the editor who had acquired Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. I loved both projects, but felt one was much more marketable (gross poems with high boy appeal), while the other one was more of a labor of intense love (poems about books). I was stunned (in a good way) when my editor chose the books poems, and things moved slowly, oh so slowly, forward on that collection (now due out in fall of 2011).
Holy cow. I’ll see if I can get through a whole paragraph here without parentheses! So, meanwhile, she loved the collection of gross poems, too, but didn’t feel it was quite ready for acquisition. Over the past couple of years, I did two or three fairly intense revisions of the gross poems project, and each time, my editor felt it was getting closer and closer. She continued to say she wanted to eventually acquire it.
Then my editor left publishing last fall, which I was really sad about (and not just because of the gross poems). My agent and I talked about submitting Gross Poems elsewhere, but we really wanted a third book in the pipeline at this lovely publisher who I’m thrilled to be published by. So we held off.
A new editor was eventually hired, and things once again began to move forward with the books poems. Now that an illustrator is hard at work on the books poems collection, I approached my new editor about Gross Poems and gave him a bit of background. I explained that I hoped he liked it, but I also wanted to move forward one way or the other. He read the collection and saw promise, but he had a totally different vision for the book. It would keep the topic, but the entire collection would change, the narrators would completely change, and to me, the inherent character of the book would change. He asked if I was interested in trying that approach.
After a couple of days of hard thinking, I knew I wasn’t. It was sooooo hard to say to an editor, an editor whom I really want to work with on another project, that his vision and mine were too far apart on this project for it to work. I offered up a number of other projects for him to consider, and he chose two (one of them barely started) to take a look at.
I know it was the right thing to do, but Gross Poems was kind of my safety net. Things weren’t really happening with it, but it was there, waiting. I kept thinking, "Well, maybe things will work out soon with Gross Poems."
The upside is we’re trying to find a project that both of us are excited to work on together. And that Gross Poems can now go out to other editors who might share my vision of it.
The downside is that there’s no completed collection there as a safety net, nothing that I can tell myself is close to being acquired (even if it’s really not). And that the collection stayed with one publisher almost three years with no happy results.
But that’s just the business. I didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did my former editor or current editor. Things just move very slowly, and the publishing house went through enormous changes/mergers/layoffs during the time Gross Poems has been sitting there. The good news is they want to find something to work on together, and I do, too! So I’m trying to concentrate on that and not worry about whether we WILL find something to work on together.
Hopefully I’ll have good news to share in the coming months about a new project in the works there. Fingers crossed.