In the past few days, I talked about revising on two different levels (the pruning of newish work and striving for consistency over the range of the manuscript). Today, I went in another direction, the revising that happens as a part of the process of submitting poems.
First, these are the poems that are well-pruned and settled. Upon re-reading (out loud) there are no stutters, stumbles, or bogging down. These poems hold fast. After I decide on the packets I'm going to send out and to which journals, I work poem by poem. I am revising with a singular focus here and not really thinking of the project at large, hoping that the attention I've paid to the entire manuscript in the past will insure that I don't revert to some inconsistency. As I worked through the first packet today, I found myself getting rid of a few more "ands" or "&s," catching a few cases of passive voice that easily made the move to active, and, in one case, changing a fragment back to a clause because it no longer held up on its own.
I often bemoan the amount of time it takes to submit poems and keep up with responses from editors; however, today, I'm reminded that, for me, the process is crucial to my revision process. It's a time when I am even more able to look at the poems with the healthy skepticism of a good editor.
One slight difference today is that I'm sending out a good number of sickly speaker poems that have never made the rounds before. Later, as the responses come in, there may be more revision. An acceptance is no guarantee that the editors might not make a wise suggestion for a cut or a tweak. I've also learned that an acceptance is no guarantee that, when the time comes for the poem to work in the book as a whole, it won't need another tweak here and there. The accumulation of a number of rejections usually means another combing through to find any snarls.
So, it seems I've learned to love the wheel inside the wheel inside the wheel of revise, submit, response, revise, submit, response, &etc.
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