Friday, October 22, 2010

A-Drafting I Did Go

53º ~ the trend for above average high temps continues, am trying to embrace the lasting heat in case the winter turns longer, colder, and wetter than normal again this year, while we crave more rain, the light is lovely as it slants all autumn-wise through thinning tree branches

Woo Hoo, Dear Reader, I'm riding the high of having drafted today after several weeks on an upset schedule.  As I've said before, those scheduling upsets weren't necessarily bad, but I still feel off kilter when I haven't drafted in a while.

This morning, I decided to dive into my "In Progress" folder and see if any energy from those drafts would spark something new.  In fact, at first I got diverted into revising a draft that was "nearly there."  I spent some time tweaking the last couple of stanzas of what is now "Ancestral Incantation," but what began as "The Old Ancestral Homestead" (ugh, I cringe at that title).  I blogged about the drafting of this poem here.   Letting it sit for 3-4 weeks seems to have done the trick as I saw how I'd pushed the ending in my first version.  A key turned in a lock in my brain and I saw the door open to how the poem needed to end.  Voila!

After that tinkering and tweaking, I opened my journal and wrote "Too long away again."  This is a repeated phrase that I use just to make the pen move on the page.  It worked again, and it appears I'm still obsessed with creating fairy tales of the Midwest.  (I confess that last night before going to bed I reminded myself that I should go immediately to drafting this morning with no pit stops on blogs or Facebook.  And so I went to sleep thinking about the poems I'd most recently drafted, challenging myself to remember them if I could.  One sign of a good line being its memorability.)
Today, I came up with "Fairy Tale for Girls in Love with Fire."  It begins as the others do with the word "Once," but I changed up the opening this time.  The phrase "who refuses to mind" comes up in this poem, as it does in the others; however, in this new draft, it appears in the closing stanza rather than the first line.  That all happened naturally, and I think it was important to have some time pass between the drafting of these poems so that they don't all start to sound alike. 

I have no idea how many of these fairy tales I have in me, and they make me uneasy, I must confess.  They are so narrative, and that is not my strong suit.  I know it's good to work outside my comfort zone, to bend and stretch, but the hard part is that I have no idea if these are any good at all.  Sigh.  Just when I'd developed some sense of confidence about my more lyric poems. 

As always time and editors will tell, Dear Reader.  Thanks for reading these blog posts in the meantime.


Nancy Devine said...

do you have a post somewhere that describes your drafting and revising? i think i need to make myself some sort of schedule/plan so i don't fritter my time away. i've got several projects i'm working on ---personal and job-related. and quite frankly, i get a bit overwhelmed which translates into unproductive.

Sandy Longhorn said...

You can look back at most Fridays to find posts on my drafting process. As for time management: I arranged my teaching schedule so that I'd have 3 hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Fridays naturally evolved to be my drafting days. I usually try to revise at least once a week, going through my "In Progress" folder where I keep all of my drafts until they seem ready to go out into the world.

A year and a half ago, I decided to give my writing life equal priority with my teaching life. The schedule does help me keep from feeling overwhelmed.

Hope this helps!

Kathleen said...

Your comments match my own (in today's journal) re: getting back to poetry after a particularly busy time. I also drafted a new one this morning, doing that first before checking email, facebook, blog, etc.!

And Nancy will want to take a look at your Her Circle ezine guest blog, with its fabulous writing prompts. Thank you for that, too, Sandy!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kathleen, congrats on the new draft and thanks for your kind words about my guest post.

Jessie Carty said...

If you ever want a reader who writes a lot of narrative (by nature) but who (whom?) moving away from that now...let me know :)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Jessie! Let me see what happens after these have aged a bit.

Nancy Devine said...

thanks, sandy.
i did try a couple of times to look at the guest blog post you did, but the link wouldn't/won't open.

Sandy Longhorn said...


Try this one

Or you can just go to and I'm still on the front page, right side towards the middle.

Thanks for being interested!

Kristin said...

I am so fascinated by your fairy tale poems, even though I haven't read them.

The College English Association is meeting in St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia), and I plan to submit a proposal for a paper that explores how mid-20th century women writers used fairy tales in their poems and how women writers now are using fairy tales in their poems. It seems that many of us (me, you, local writing friends, Jeannette Hall Gailey, the list goes on and on)are using fairy tales, and I'm interested in whether or not we're using them in substantially different ways than women in the past did.

Thanks for sharing your process with us!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kristin, the paper sounds fascinating. Best of luck for an acceptance.

I've read a lot of poems that retell standard fairy tales in new ways, where the characters and conflict remain identifiable.

Perhaps my own uncertainty stems from the fact that I'm making up the tales from scratch. Do you know of other poets who do that?