Saturday, September 10, 2011

Draft Process Beginning with Revision

77º ~ all bright sun, a soft breeze, windows open, may have to water the lawn

A day late, but there's a draft on the table.  Not sure if it will "live" to become a poem, but it's there.

There's a lot of chaos in my world right now.  Still not 100% health-wise, re: sinus infection.  Lou-Lou got some disappointing results in her most recent blood work.  Some difficult issues both at work and with my family.  Nothing dire, but those normal life moments that require a lot of mental & emotional energy to sift through and decide how to move forward. 

Again, those could be excuses not to write.  I wasn't sure I would today.  Instead, I began by revising all of the drafts from the past month and a half.  (Thus the title of the post today.) 

Here's the process.  I keep a folder with printed copies of each draft.  This is where a piece stays until I feel like it is a poem strong enough to be submitted to journals.  I start with the draft on top, which would be the most recent.  I read each poem out loud, often many times.  I listen for extra words that could be trimmed.  My biggest issue is over-writing; I'm especially fond of unnecessary adjectives.  I cut and trim, usually a word here or there, sometimes a whole clause or sentence.  I try to be objective about how the poem works.  Sometimes, I need to add a stanza or more likely cut one and rewrite it from scratch.  As you might guess, the most recent poems need the most revision.  The older ones have been through the process once or twice and usually move out of the folder to be readied for submission. 

In doing this today, I realized that I've written some really strong poems and I'm feeling good about sending a lot of them out into the world.  This surprised me since I wasn't exactly feeling all aglow with positive vibes as I began.  However, the positive energy that I had when I reached the end of the folder translated into trying to draft a poem. 

Continuing on my recent process, I picked up the new issue of The Journal that arrived a few days ago. 

Cover art by Krista Drummond

Wow.  This issue is chock full of good stuff.  I started to read and jot down nouns and verbs that jumped off the page.  As I filled up the page in my drafting journal, I started looking for lines that might make a good title.  (That sickly speaker continues to haunt me.)  As I was reading Jeannine Hall Gailey's "[Experiment in Sleep Deprivation]" from her series The Robot Scientist's Daughter, I came across this line:  "They try to tamper and tame her piece by piece."  Voila! 

I drafted "To Tamper and Tame Me Piece by Piece" and my sickly, yet rebellious, speaker had more to say again today.  I'll keep listening to her until she's done.  The draft begins this way.

They try.  They plot behind charts burgeoning
with multi-colored papers.  Etched results
of specimens removed from the rubble

of my body.

As I said, I'm less sure of this one than I've been of others in the past, but I have hope it will become a poem through some serious revision.  It's written as 6 tercets for now, although a lot of the poems from this speaker have been coming out as couplets.  When I look at the larger project, I may have to think about the form in the bigger picture. 

For now, I'm just glad to have some new poems to send out into the world as the September floodgates of new reading periods open.

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