• Jasleni Brito

I Submitted My First Manuscript!

For years I have been wanting to share my poetry and publish a book but have held myself back because of fear. This fear kept insisting that I needed to create the perfect material, have the best book layout, design a truly captivating book cover, and the closer I got to achieving these goals, the more new requirements kept piling up on top. I've been taking the long route there without actually making real steps forward, which is why I am so happy to share that I entered a chap book contest hosted by Digging Through The Fat!

Now that I put myself out there, and survived, I feel like I can really do this! I can be a writer versus just someone who writes.

Though we just started working together, JP Infante has proven to be a great teacher and a mentor of sorts. This was his Homework Assignment #1, intended not make me a chap book prize winner, but meant to push me over the edge and get me to do in a few hours what I've been too scared to do over the course of a few years.

This experience taught me that when submitting a manuscript, the graphic designer and the visual artist in me have no business opining. The guidelines of the contest required that I submit my poetry in 12 pt font, Times New Roman, on a Word Doc; plain and simple. There was no book cover necessary, and no trendy book layout to go along. (As a designer, you can imagine how horrifying this was for me.) It was all about the poetry.

I was also surprised that they wanted no identifying information to go along with the manuscript. I had to be really mindful of not including my name, nationality, gender, age, or anything else that may influence the judges. The guidelines said that they would read my bio and learn more about me if I make it into the finalists. This means that it's not about the visual presentation, demographic, or back story of the writer, but about the writing itself; something I had not realized. I thought that when sharing my work, I was sharing all of me; marketing the whole packet of what makes me "Jasleni". Now I see that I can't rely on my art/design skills, or on how being a minority can bring diversity to the table which may be appealing to some publications. I realized that the actual words matter, and that there are people out there who value the writing and not just what I look like or how many followers I have on Instagram.

Above all this experience has taught me that the anticipation is the worst part, but actually "doing it" is not so scary at all. I understand that I have a lot of work ahead of me but I am ready and excited to take on the challenge. Now I just have to see what JP will assign to me next!

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