Friday, December 10, 2010

Drafty, Drifting, Drafting

39º ~ full gray sky, not missing the sun, the weather is fitting, winter making its mark

Yesterday I turned in my final grades and bid adieu to my office for a few weeks.  Hip Hip Hooray!

I came to the desk today, knowing it might not be easy, since I haven't written much in the last few weeks, but I knew I needed to do the time and see what might happen.

Things started off badly with an email rejection from one of my most favorite journals, and one that a number of friends have been accepted by lately (yay friends!).  I did get a nice note from the editors stating that my poems were among the last group that they wanted to accept but had no room for.  Sigh.  Yes, this is a great note and I'm happy they liked the work, but still sad they didn't like the work 'enough.'

I think I'm particularly susceptible to the wallowing self-pity of this kind of note b/c I've received it often about the manuscript...always the bridesmaid, never the bride syndrome!  (Someone kick my ass about this, please!)

Following my normal routine, I then minimized the email screen, turned on the Yo-Yo Ma and cleared the desk of everything except my journal and pen.  I decided to start by looking through some inspiration cards (explanation of this process here).  There are a couple that seem full of promise to me, but each time I try to write from them, I get stuck.  It happened again today.  I went through several messy pages in my journal trying to find a rhythm, a line that sounded even halfway decent, an idea that might hold up past the third line, etc.  It's a mess...a drafty, drifting mess of words.  I ended up with all the inspiration cards spread out around me and still nothing. 

Then, I reached for the most recent journal I'd received in the mail, Copper Nickel, which I adore.  I read the first poem, "Notes on the Twenty-First Century" by Ryan Teitman, which was awesome.  I grooved along through it and thought 'ah ha!' I've got it now and went back to the journal.  Strangling, struggling lines.  UGH. 

I confess, Dear Reader, that I despaired. 

But I refused to get up from my chair, and I read a few more poems in the journal.  I started wondering about my aversion to writing from the first person AND the personal rather than the persona, something I've consciously shifted away from over the last few months, and my fear of being too sentimental, too 'confessional'...that seemingly dirty word these days.  Then I took account of the poems in CN that presented a first person speaker and realized that they were great poems and how could I tell if they were persona or personal and maybe I should go there again and explore.  (That's a bit of a mess, but then, that's the state of my mind these days!)

So I did, and I finally found those lines, that rhythm.  The draft is titled, "Diary Entry Approaching 2011," which I think was my way of easing back into a first-person speaker.  This is, by no means, a draft I have much confidence in, but it seems to have a weight about it that suggests it might be worth working on again soon.  I'll leave you with a shot of the page in my journal where the draft began.


Kathleen said...

1) Yay! 2) I'll kick your ass if you'll kick mine. (Also always a bridesmaid.) 3) You have bolstered me in case I also despair later in the day! 4) Thanks!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the smile, Kathleen!

Nancy Devine said...

sometimes, i think i like the plain old rejection letters that simply say your work won't be published instead of the almost but not quite thing.
(perhaps a boot to my butt is necessary, too)

Sandy Longhorn said...

It's a tough life we live, huh? Flat out rejection or you almost made it rejection! :)