Saturday, June 16, 2012

Draft Process: Cloaked in Darkness and in Health

87º ~ the heat is on (outside obviously), tho the humidity holds in the manageable ranges, still no hint of rain for the week that stretches out "mostly sunny," the birds are happy when anyone waters the lawn

Today, I did not think that I would draft.  I slept very late and I've mentioned in the past how disorienting that is for me. The same was true today, but I woke early with a splitting headache and retreated back to sleep.  I wandered through what was left of the morning and even the cats got shortchanged of their normal play time. 

I decided that I would cut myself some slack, that I would work on submissions instead of drafts, that I might not even do that, that I might, instead, spend the day on the couch with endless reruns of Law & Order or reading a memoir I picked up at the library last week. 

Then, in going through my usual breakfast routine of eating my Oat Squares while checking email, my blog feed, and Facebook, I stumbled on a reply to a post on FB from yesterday.  My good friend (and excellent poet!), Al Maginnes had commented on yesterday's draft, and I had replied about feeling worn out and unsure if I could continue.  Al wrote, "Stay with it as long as you can. There will be too many days without poems."  When I first read that, I felt a deep disappointment with myself for taking the easy way out today, but I didn't grab up my journal.  I continued to troll FB and the blog feeder.  I did some online banking. I went and made my cup of coffee.  I drifted into a bit of daydream...

And WHAM!  There she was, the sickly speaker, dictating that letter that I referenced yesterday, the one that announces her escape.  It begins:

Dear Madame--

I send this letter in advance of my escape.

The whitecoats hint at my release but offer
only obstacles. Their latest word is destitute.

from Wikimedia Commons, click

The draft continues for 22 lines, following the pattern of single line/couplet, but ending on a single line.  Now, how did I get to "destitute"?  

Well, I'm still working through the whole "escape" thing rather than the "release." And in this draft the speaker explains her impatience.  She KNOWS that she is healed but the whitecoats keep delaying.  So, I was thinking, why would they delay?  This combined with that little bit of online banking I mentioned above.  (No Mom, don't panic!  I'm not destitute!)  Without getting too personal, I don't believe in credit card debt, paying any balance off every month, but this month, my personal card has a bit of a steep balance. I was feeling a bit upset about this, castigating myself about not following the plan and having to dip into my savings. 

I'm sure this financial stress bled through into the speaker's voice.  Once I'd stumbled across the word, though, I knew it was perfect, as a huge percentage of the bankruptcies in America result from health care events.

The draft goes on to explore how the attitude of the whitecoats has changed now that the speaker is no longer a medical mystery.  Sure, they still don't know what caused her illness, but she's better so they want to move on, bored by her (think House). She plans to make her escape on the next new moon (shhhhhhh!) and stop briefly at her mentor's for shelter & advice.  

Again, I came up with the title on my own rather than stealing as in the past.  It plays on the phrase "in sickness and in health," although the speaker isn't romantically involved with her mentor or with anyone. Still, I love the rhythm of that line, so I wound up with "Cloaked in Darkness and in Health."  Many thank, Al, for the nudge in the right direction! 

Finally, I'm wondering, is this the end?  Don't I need to write the escape poem?  Don't we need to know where she ends up?  Will I ever feel like we've reached the end of the story?

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