Friday, November 18, 2011

Draft Process: Over Which a Feast Weight Passes

38ยบ ~ one of the coldest nights so far for the season, but a warming trend through Tuesday, bright sun today, the remaining leaves fluttering like torn flags on the stripped branches

Well, she's done it again, Dear Reader.  My sickly speaker got so insistent that I kept running into the office to scratch out her words while I was trying to make the coffee. 

The prelude:  Last night, I did remind myself that I had time and space to write this morning, but I didn't really fixate/focus on drafting at that point.  As I was going through my morning routine, I did think about where the speaker might be today and what she might be thinking about.  Since this whole set of poems began with the idea of a fever and an illness that escaped diagnosis, the fever tends to come up a lot.  This morning I was thinking back to the previous drafts and trying to remember what the speaker has had to say so far.  I wondered if I needed to re-read all the other drafts before I started.

Uhm, no. 

One of the earliest drafts I wrote included a reference to the speaker's meals of rare meat and red wine (an allusion to "The Yellow Wallpaper" that I couldn't avoid/resist).  Then, a later draft featured a "thinning diet" of a "thin slip of soup" and "a thimble" of either wine or water (I can't remember without looking the draft up).  So, I was thinking about food, I guess, and the speaker arrived with this:

Two days after the fever breaks,
they return with plats of meat.

Fat & juice congeal on the plate.
The wine has been replaced.

from Creativecommons.org (click for link)

After I got the coffee brewed and got to the desk, I went straight to the computer and typed out the lines I'd scratched into the journal.  It seems I've moved away from word banks and clustering.  The poems build themselves more slowly as I have to search the dictionary of my own brain/life to find the best words, but that's the real work, isn't it?  I suppose I'm glad to move away from the word banks a bit, although I still believe in their power to propel me onto the page without any dilly-dallying. 

Just counting the lines, I see today's draft matches Wednesday's: 22 lines, all in couplets.  Hmmm, when is form a crutch?  Something to watch for.  Did I cut this poem off too soon?  I confess, that when I reached a certain point on the screen I started thinking about how to "wrap it up," although I want to avoid the trite epiphany endings.  Endings are also a bit different now that I know there is a series of these poems in the works.  There is more of a sense that the ideas of the poem may continue to evolve in different patterns and progressions, so I don't have to try to say everything about this speaker all at once.  For me, these are strange times. 

To the title: I admit that I thought about going to my mainstay, Lucie Brock-Broido and mining her work again for the title.  However, laziness overcame me and I stayed rooted in the chair.  (In an organizational fit, I shelved a bunch of books yesterday, so nothing was in reach.  Yes, if I lean over, I can just touch the edge of the book case, so it's only two steps away, but the chair was so sure beneath me and the electric heater is aimed right at my feet.  You understand.)  In any case, I decided to try my hand at a title that would fit with the others and hit at the illness-altered state of the speaker's mind.  Who knows if it will stick.

I think now, I will need to print out all of the sickly speaker poems and see what's what. 

Until the next installment, then.

2 comments:

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

I would think form is a crutch when you only can write one form, right? Like only writing free verse, five-paragraph essays, blank verse (if there ever was such a poet), O'Henry-like stories, or introductions that begin with vapid rhetorical questions...

Sandy Longhorn said...

Ah, yes, Q. I see that all of my comp grading is leaching into my writing brain again. :)