March 17, 2001
While the title page continues to be a place for Ward's personal reminders, the table of contents is an interesting tale of how things within the construction of the book continue to change. Building a poetry collection comes with more freedom than putting together a novel, but this freedom means that the flow of the book must work. The topics of the poems must seamlessly breathe into one another, and the lengths of back-to-back poems must not overwhelm readers. Hence, the order in which the poems are configured within Book of My Nights is discussed frequently in the manuscript notes. That being said, the order of poems in Book of My Nights written in this March 2001 table of contents differs greatly from what was subsequently published in the fall of that year.
The March 2001 manuscript included a packet containing notes from Thom Ward. In it, he comments on a couple of poems in the collection, be it one line of compliment or a small paragraph of critique. Ward also mentions former BOA managing editor Steve Huff in the edits, another crucial person who was providing thoughts and comments about Lee's manuscript.
In addition, the relationship between an editor and writer is something to consider when reading edits. Some editors provide a hands-off approach to running through manuscripts, while others want to offer as much support to the writer as possible.
Ward certainly provides Lee with more than plenty of advice, comments, and criticism — an approach that not all editors use. Plus, since this is Lee's third collection with BOA, his closer relationship with Ward and the publishing company dictates the tone and attitude of Ward's edits. It is worth reading through to see the kind of edits that Ward prioritizes as well, which seem to be more on structure and flow rather than content.