Thursday, June 28, 2012

Closing Out the Residency & a Revision History for One Poem

90º ~ yep, it's 10:15 and we're into the 90s ~ highs in the trip digits forecast for the next three days at least ~ not a wisp of a chance of rain on the horizon

Well, yesterday, I thought that my appearance at the Arkansas Governor's School might be a good way to end my self-imposed homestead writing residency, and today my mind is whirling from national events (way to go SCOTUS!), so I'm thinking, yeah, "the end."

In wrapping things up:

~~~First, a huge shout out to Wesley Beal and the other English Language Arts faculty members at the Arkansas Governor's School for hosting me and James Katowich.  I had a fabulous day being back on campus and interacting with the talented and inquisitive rising-seniors.  The students (and faculty) were an excellent audience.  I read some poems from Blood Almanac, some from the weather book, some fairy tales, and ended with two of the sickly speaker poems.  Then, we did a Q & A, and I got asked the best question ever:  "Does being a Cubs fan help you in your life as a writer?"  (A little backstory, some of these students had C. for AP US History last year and know of our love of the Cubs; also, I had a Cubs coozy on my water bottle given how much everything sweats in the heat.)  Now, I'm always telling my students that being a fan of the Cubs is essential to my ability to brush off rejection (there's always another game, another series, and another year!), but here was someone asking before I got to say it!  (And no, I didn't plant that question!)

A giant thank you to the students who purchased a copy of Blood Almanac.  Forever indebted!  I hope the book brings you some enjoyment and teaches you something about the world along the way.

~~~Second, wow, many thanks to the editors at Linebreak for publishing "Fevers of a Minor Fire," one of the first sickly speaker poems to be written, and huge thanks to Sandra Beasley for her amazing rendition of the poem.  This is one of those cases of a quick, quick turnaround.  I submitted the poem two weeks ago, and boom, there it is! 

When I posted on Facebook about the publication, I decided to also post a link to my draft notes. I was stunned to see how much the opening had changed.  Well, maybe it's not that big of a change, but I swear I had no memory of beginning with "Feminine form of Lord."  Looking back at my hard copies (I save each major draft revision), I see that nine days after the initial draft, I cut that first bit, and I'm so glad I did!

Then, two months after the initial draft, I broke the initial set of three stanzas of eight lines each into quatrains. 

On January 15, five months after the initial draft, I reworked the first stanza entirely, which included some of the shortest lines in the draft and lacked the musculature of the rest of the stanzas.  I ended up rearranging line breaks and adding one line all together.  At this time, I also extracted a few extra adjectives and a few conjunctions & prepositions.

One of the things I've seen as I've pruned and revised lately is that I often need to do the most work on the beginnings of the drafts.  One of the first lessons I learned way back in undergrad was that I have a tendency to stumble into the piece, to write a lot of hesitation lines before I get to where I need to go.  Must keep a vigilant eye on those cumbersome openings during revision!

It's interesting that in the first draft I used an ampersand for every "and."  I'm sure this is due to the fact that I was reading Lucie Brock-Broido the day I drafted.  Slowly, most of those ampersands were replaced with the word.  Now I have to re-think the whole issue again, in terms of the book-length project!

~~~Third, I had another acceptance of one of the sickly speaker poems I sent out this past month, so I'm thrilled.  (Will let you all know the who, what, where, when, as the poem becomes available, but it will be online!)  So, I've had six of these poems accepted.  The first four are in print journals, and these last two are online.  Of the six, four of these are epistolary poems to the speaker's mentor.  Of course, it is wonderful to have this kind of affirmation of the poems; however, that joy is tempered by the fact the all but five of the weather book poems achieved publication in national journals, and that book languishes in terms of publication as a collection.  I'm trying to ride the wave of happiness that the sickly speaker is getting out there in the world and not think to far into the future for the project. 

~~~Fourth, THANK YOU to the Kangaroo readers for following my residency.  I'll be around the rest of the summer but probably not posting quite so often (whew!).  May your reading and/or writing be plentiful!


Donna Vorreyer said...

So great to read about your amazing productivity, especially your thoughts on revision. Although your weather manuscript has found a home, at least ONE of your manuscripts has done so! Your writing will find the right home.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Donna. I appreciate you.

Kathleen said...

Yay to you! Yes, re: Cubs/rejection issue. A lovely lesson about spirit, joy, persistence, and all kinds of things.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen! Go, Cubs, Go!