I finished laying out the manuscript this weekend.

Of course I say “finished,” but what I really mean is “finished the first round of laying out the manuscript.” I’m sure that there will be revisions, and then revisions to those revisions, and so on.

I was stuck for awhile, but then I was watching the Rachel Zoe Project (no, seriously), and something clicked. It was the episode where Rachel is stuck in NYC, in the middle of a blizzard, trying desperately to plan and pull off a fashion show to benefit the earthquake survivors in Haiti. There is one quiet moment where Rachel is “creating a lineup” – posting photographs of the models on a wall to determine the order in which they will walk. As she works, she says something like, “I have such a great lineup going, I just have these few stragglers,” and she attempts to insert a few different looks into the lineup.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Rachel Zoe or the fashion world would help me in some way. But that moment made me realize I was approaching the layout all wrong. Instead of trying to follow a linear train of thought from first poem to last, I needed to organize around specific points in the manuscript. So I determined which poems I should open and close with, followed by which poem I wanted the manuscript to center itself on, and from there I fit the rest of the poems in place.

It’s not necessarily the most sophisticated way to organize a manuscript, but it seems to have worked for round 1.

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