The academic groove has proved to be a boon for me. Not only have my classes gone well this week, but I've slipped back into the writing rhythm like a well-oiled bicycle chain slipping onto the teeth of the chain ring. For those familiar with this rhythm, you'll know that Fridays usually end up as drafting and/or revising days.
Last weekend, I tried to work on revising a bunch of the poems I'd drafted during my 14 days of a-poem-a-day drafting. It was horrible. I hated all of the poems and wanted to throw in the towel. Serious doubts followed. Realizing that I was worn out from a week of professional development and prepping of classes (NOT in the groove), I quit after about an hour. Thank the stars!
Today, I bravely swept my desk clean of all the riff-raff clutter. Then, I stacked the folders of poems that needed to be looked at again (these are ones that have been through hefty revision in the Spring and have maybe gone out once to journals) on top of the folder of poem drafts from June. I eased into things by starting with poems I had some confidence about. I fine-tuned, tweaking a word here, a comma there, reading and re-reading aloud until I was happy with the sounds. Then, I'd print a fresh copy and place it in the folder, close the folder and set it in the ready-to-submit pile. Slowly, I worked my way down to the poems that were newer and in need of more elbow grease. The time spent with each poem began to lengthen, but I felt happier about the poems than I did on Sunday. Yay!
Now, I have a fat stack of folders containing poems that seem fit to send off into the world. One of my goals for this weekend is to send off my August submissions. Today's work gives me hope that a few of the poems may find homes sooner rather than later.
What I learned by the end of today's revision work is this: I've been grumping about losing July to health issues and the beginning of August to getting ready for a new school year; I WAS WRONG. The time away from the poems really did give me new insight into directions for revision. I wasn't as married to a single word or phrase. In fact, I was able to delete the last three stanzas of a nine stanza poem and start over from scratch, having known all along that the ending didn't work. Suddenly, it was like the petals of those stanzas stretched out and bloomed without me having to force them. Yay!
What I also learned: nearly every poem contains the word "pollen." HAH! A few years back, I noticed a trend with the word "grass" in a bunch of poems. These are things I can't see when I'm in the mix of drafting...only after time has passed do I make the connection. I can explain this pollen fascination without any trouble. We had some major pine pollen issues here in Arkansas this past spring...March - June our porch was yellow-green with it, almost like sand piling up on the porch of a beach house. It definitely drifted into my imagination in a major way. So, I leave you with this photo of pine pollen from Jane Larson on the Niwot Ridge Long-term Ecological Research site.