Sunday, July 24, 2011

Draft Process: Chapbook Final Poem

81º ~ cloud cover 80%, 40% chance of rain from t-storms, yesterday's rain due to t-storm = 10 minutes, we take what we can get

Yesterday was not a good day.  I was hit by the sluggish, couch potato bug pretty hard.  I was also hit by the "oh crap, summer is almost over and I wasted it" bug.  Most teachers are familiar with this one.  I know I didn't "waste" anything.  I just always start the summer break with lofty goals about what I'm going to accomplish.  It turns out, I don't do well without a schedule.  This realization has been creeping up on me for the last few summers.  Now, I report back in two weeks but have a lot of prep work to do on classes in that time.  (I'm teaching Comp I online for the first time.)

I think I was also a bit down because I hadn't written a new draft in a while.  In this case, I was the agent of my own melancholy.  I know the solution: butt in chair.  I simply couldn't do it yesterday.  Today, now, today is a different story.

I wasn't even really thinking about drafting.  I was just waking up at the desk, going through my emails and reading blogs.  Then, Lou-Lou came to help me.  Her version of helping is to sit where I need the keyboard to be.  She also likes to be sure to hold down one of my arms by curling up on it.  In the past, I was pretty good about shaking her off; however, we've been feeling bad because she no longer has Libby as a playmate, so she's lonely.  Also, after one cat dying, I'm wanting to give Lou-Lou all the love I can. 

So, as I sat there, stymied by my helper, I realized that I had my right hand free and my journal was in reach.  No excuses now. 

As I flipped open the journal, I came across this note "have all the girls meet in the afterlife."  It looks like I wrote this note in April.  Suddenly, the lines were pouring out of me.  I've called the draft "After" and made it the final poem in the chapbook.  While I didn't consciously set out to write a "final poem" for the book, I now see that it helps close the manuscript.  So by writing through the poem, I also learned something about the manuscript as a whole.  That's a first for me.  The poem begins:

In the ever-after, the air sweet
with cut grasses, the girls arrived:

image from

It's a bit of a list poem and contains some of the key images from the tales, and it is the most lyric of all the poems in the book.  I found that I loved the fluidity of being back in the lyric poem.  When I'm writing a narrative it seems that the draft takes a lot longer and there are more questions to address during revision (not that I don't spend a lot of time on revision when working in the lyric form).  Having to marry story and imagery/sound is just really hard for me.

I'm not saying my days of writing the nursery tales are over, but it was a joy to move in a new way today.

By the way, one of my all-time favorite smells is the smell of fresh-cut grass or new-mown hay.  It's bizarre, but cracked watermelon rind smells the same way to me.  All luscious and alive.


Karen J. Weyant said...

Yes, indeed -- I have been suffering from the "oh crap, summer is almost over and I wasted it bug" too! I also started off fine but have slowed down in the last week. (I blame the heat!) Great work on your draft!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Karen, thanks for the support. Hope your heat breaks soon! We will have ours through August. Ugh.

Laura Thacker said...

This blog brings back many childhood memories! It was not only the smell of grass that had just been mowed that I loved, but also the smell of green onion! I remember walking in the fresh cut pathways that my dad cut while he was was amazing to me since I was just a little girl walking on the cut paths in our yard while he mowed through out it. Of course, I was often times barefoot and the grass felt cool beneath my feet.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hey, Laura! Thanks for chiming in. If you aren't already signed up for creative writing, I hope you find a place for it in your schedule (with me or someone else). See you in a few weeks!