Friday, July 13, 2018

Two Bee Poems: Revising for Publication

I had to revise a number of the poems in the THINGS TO DO manuscript that was submitted to Chronicle Books. A few had minor revisions; others required major changes. One that underwent a major change was the honeybee poem, which had originally been a "worker bee" poem.

Things to do if you are a WORKER BEE as it appeared in my manuscript:

Be yellow and fuzzy.
Stay busy. Be buzzy.
Tidy and clean.
Tend to your queen.
Be a working machine—
A syrup collector.
Go forage for nectar.
Reap pollen from flowers.
Don’t spend idle hours.
Don’t sit and relax.
Make honey and wax.
You must toil without end—
Yours is a lifetime of labor,
My friend.

My editor Melissa Manlove thought the poem was too long. She suggested I keep just the first two lines...and leave the poem at that. I decided to add two new lines to the beginning.

The final draft of Things to do if you are a HONEYBEE as it appears in my book:

Flit among flowers.
Sip nectar for hours.
Be yellow and fuzzy.
Stay busy.
Be buzzy.

Sylvia Vardell has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Poetry for Children.


Kathryn Apel said...

Well - I'm so glad you shared the original, too, because there's lots to love about that worker bee. But your honeybee version is very short&snappy buzzy-cute! So now you have two poems. :)

Ramona said...

Love the honeybee poem! It's fun to see how you took those lines and made them last lines. What a delight to see your revision process.

Erin Mauger said...

Thanks for sharing your process. For your upcoming publication, did you submit directly to the publisher or was there a particular call for a poetry collection? Just curious, I suppose submitting a book of poetry is a similar process to other types of books.

Linda B said...

It's fun to see how it worked from start to finish, Elaine. I like that you included so much in the first, but for the readers, maybe the last one is best. Love those bees!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I was fortunate. My good friend Grace Lin sent my manuscript to Melissa Manlove, her editor at Chronicle Books. I submitted a follow-up collection of "things to do" poems about winter to Chronicle--but it was rejected. I was told my first book was going out slowly, despite the fact that it has won two awards--the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature and a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Award. I have since submitted it to another publisher. I haven't heard back yet.

Mary Lee said...

Oh, I love the compromise! Those two lines are strong, but what you did is even stronger!

Tabatha said...

Your first version was wonderful, Elaine. I'm glad you showed it to us. Sometimes you have to "kill your darlings," I guess.

Sally Murphy said...

Love seeing the revision here. I love the first version, but love the second one more, I think, How clever of you to take on the editor's advice, but then add your own stamp.

Molly Hogan said...

It was fascinating to get a peek into your revision process. Ditto Sally's final line!

Sylvia Vardell said...

I agree-- it's so fun to see how a poem evolves! Thanks so much for sharing that!

Buffy Silverman said...

So interesting to read about your revision when working with an editor. Thanks for sharing this!

Kay said...

Thanks for sharing both versions. It's fascinating to see the transformation when there is much to enjoy in each.

Michelle Kogan said...

I liked your first version but think your revision is strong and says so much in just those few lines–thanks for sharing both with us Elaine!