Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Drafting On an Off Day

44º ~ a continuation of the southern sun, but no rain to speak of, we are dry and drought-ridden, temps hovering in the mid-80's most days, cool nights at least

No, it isn't Friday, Dear Readers, but I was called to draft today.  I'd felt the pressure building over the last two weeks of non-drafting.  Poor C., I get a bit uneven when I fail to work on my own poetry and sometimes am not the most pleasant person.  Granted all the things that have prevented me from writing have been wonderful and poetry-related, so there is little to complain of.  Still last night I told myself that today would be a drafting day, and after I woke and was working through my morning routine I reminded myself of such.  I thought of my draft from about a month ago, "Fairy Tale for Drowned Girls," which was at first "Midwestern Fairy Tale for Drowned Girls."  I really enjoyed thinking about the cautionary tales that might be specific to my favored geography.  And fairy tales, in most of their original forms, are really cautionary tales in disguise.  So, today I wanted to focus on a girl freezing to death in the winter.

Today's draft is, therefore, called "Fairy Tale for Frozen Girls," and thanks to a work exchange with the wonderful poet, Charlotte Pence, I knew exactly how I wanted to start it: by repeating the first line of "Drowned Girls."  Both poems begin with this line: "Once, a girl refused to mind... ."  Obviously, in the first poem the wild girl drowns and in the second poem she freezes to death in a blizzard.  What I hope I'm exploring is that Midwestern sensibility that calls us all to stay in line, to be a part of the continuous whole...but to also give credit to those outliers who break the code.  In other words, while the surface of the poems may seem to enforce the "rules," I hope the reader will see that there is admiration for the girls who will not mind as well.  That tension interests me.

Because I was building on something I'd already begun, I didn't use any of my prompts.  However, I'd thought of a line I wanted to use and jotted it down while I was still getting dressed, getting breakfast, etc.  It turned out that during the first draft I forced that line into the poem and that one line led me down a path of clunkiness and non-poetic lines.  What I was doing was really drafting in prose.  I cut the line and about 5 subsequent lines and then pared the rest down, focusing on image and sound.  After about a half hour of tinkering and printing, I realized that my original line fit perfectly (at least for now) at the end of the poem and allowed the poem to remain a poem and not a story lineated as a poem.

I hope some of that made sense.  In any case, here is a picture of my desk during the drafting time.  My journal is buried there with the handwritten scrawl of the beginning idea.  Yes, I print a lot of drafts, but always on the back of an already-used sheet of paper.  Later as I whittle down the drafts, I toss the throw-aways in a bag that I will later take to school and dump in the paper recycling bin.  I must atone for my sins against the trees, I know! 

Good drafting days to all of you, Dear Readers.


Kristin said...

I had to write to tell you how much your post inspired me. Place based fairy tales--how cool! So, I decided to contemplate my own place in South Florida. As I played with the poem, I realized that I was really writing about 3 sisters, and so my poem starts: "Once there were three girls who refused / to mind."

I haven't written much at all since mid-September, and I've had a great drafting session this morning--which I owe to you! Thank you, thank you, thank you--I wouldn't have this poem without that prompt from you.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hey, Kristin, yay!!! So glad this post helped and here's hoping the poem flies.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Huh, your theme of the girl warned but still does what she wants to do anything fits with the version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears I've been reading to my three-year old son lately. Goldilocks was warned not to go in the forest, but the porridge, the chairs, and the beds are just too darn tempting.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hey, Q., I love Goldilocks! Thanks for stopping by with the comment.

Molly said...

Like Kristin, I am grateful for the prompt -- the idea to think (and draft) about cautionary tales in a given geography/setting. Today I am making grocery lists, but on Saturday this will be the prompt I write from.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Molly, thanks for chiming in and I hope your draft works well!

Jessie Carty said...

That is a terrific idea to work off of :) I love how detailed you are in your drafting process. I really want to deconstruct mine someday

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Jessie. Glad the details of my process spark your interest. It's been fun to write about the process right after I've finished drafting.