Friday, June 8, 2012

Draft Process: I, Who have been Pressed and Prettied

74 deg ~ another amazing weather day, taking the trade off of no rain for these low humidity days, loving both sun and shade, the slight breeze moving the green, green leaves of June

Dear Readers, I confess I am at a loss; I'm stunned by how quickly the drafts are rolling these past two days.  A word of balance for the unknown commenter on yesterday's post ~ this draft a day thing doesn't always work out for me either, so be easy on yourself as you apply the BIC method (butt-in-chair).  In fact, I suspect there's at least one draft from this week that won't make it to the end of the race, but I do believe that the practice matters. Good luck to you and all of you who are writing!

While the sickly speaker hasn't woken me up at 3 a.m. this week, I did wake up with the spark of a poem this morning: rehabilitation.  I realized that before the sickly speaker (and I'm going to have to stop calling her that if she's healthy now!) would have to prove her health through rehabilitation before she would be released.  Again, let me stress that I'm not basing the sickly speaker on myself or any one person I know who has experienced a long-term illness.  I'm finding my way in the dark based on lots of different experiences, both mine and others.  This may trouble some readers who want to know the speaker's exact disease; it doesn't exist.  The whole series is based on a "fever of unknown origin," a diagnosis that our dear cat Lou-Lou received at about this time last summer and from which she perished in October.  No, crazy cat lady poet is not writing about her cat.  The human speaker took hold of me in August and wouldn't let go.

So, today's draft turned out to be another epistle to the speaker's mentor, "Dear Madame."  It begins after the greeting:

There is news.

I have walked the requisite number of steps
unaided. No line, no beat, no sweat

There are 11 couplets after that single line opening.  They go through the physical feats the speaker must accomplish to the satisfaction of the whitecoats who evaluate her.  The day nurse charts the results and the speaker is left, as always, having to deduce her progress as the numbers from the charts are never shared with her.  However, there's a stumbling point at the end, when she reveals that they won't consider her "healed" until she speaks and reveals the name of the woman who brought her into the hospital/institution and who will presumably come to get her (the woman she called mother by mistake and who is NOT her mentor).  The speaker is troubled and seeks advice from her mentor, although another thing we know is that the mentor never writes her back.  We question whether the mentor is real throughout the series.

Another plus about this draft for me, in addition to how quickly it formed itself in the journal pages, was that I didn't have to rely on the spark of a word bank.  Clearly, I'm not opposed to this, but I don't want to use it as a crutch.  I did, however, go back to stealing a line from someone else for the title.  The next book on my to-read stack is Rachel Zucker's Eating in the Underworld.  I flipped it open to the first poem and found the line "I, who have been pressed and prettied" and couldn't believe how well it fit the circumstance and tone of today's draft.  In this case, I didn't even tweak, I simply stole.  May the muses forgive me.

I'm feeling like I need to slow down and re-read through all the poems again as I'm moving toward some type of closure.  I do not mean to begrudge these rolling drafts or to turn them away.  Is this how a novelist feels?

And now, more delirious reading time on the deck.  I feel like I must gorge myself on these days as I know the high heat and humidity lurks in the forecast.


Molly said...

Ooh, love that phrase "fever of unknown origin" -- would be a great title for your collection. So glad the drafts are really rolling for you!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Molly!!! Great idea! I've been calling it What Blooms Beyond the Marrow, but Fever of Unknown Origin would definitely help set up the situation so much better. Genius. I can use What Blooms Beyond the Marrow as a title for a section or for a poem. Giddy, Giddy, Giddy as titles of collections are my biggest obstacle.