Monday, February 20, 2017

Writing Time = Revising Time = Cutting the Fat

60º ~ headed up to the mid-70s, this is winter now in the mid-south, climate change is real, everything is budding out of time

My goal for writing time in January and February was to complete my revisions of the poems in the 20 x 20: A Self-Exphrasis project and prepare all of the files for submission. I am so close to crossing this off my list I could spit.

All of the poems have been revised, and all feel strong to me now, ready for sending out. There is no revision to be made on the collages, but I have to perform some PDF-making to get things in a format suitable for sending out, and there is where I'm stymied today. I have two, only two, collages that must be rescanned. In the process of making the PDFs, I discovered that two of the scans are truncated. This is a problem with collages because most scanners are supposed to be "smart" and detect the image to be scanned. Imagine a snapshot or a full-page document. My collages, which feature lots of negative space, tend to freak out the scanners and get them all confused about where the edges are supposed to be. For these last two collages, I wasn't diligent enough in my proofing, and must rescan. In order to get the best image quality, and because the collages are larger than my home scanner, I use the flatbed scanner at work, which means waiting until tomorrow to finish this project. Sigh.

In terms of revising poems, today I was practicing what I preach, in at least one case. I confess that the poems left for revision today were the difficult ones, the ones where I knew something was off, but I couldn't put my finger on it. In particular, a poem titled "Skull" has been giving me fits since I wrote it. The collage kept outweighing the poem because the poem was still weak. For this project in particular, there can be no weak poems (not that I would want a weak poem out in the world, anyway).

Last week, in my undergraduate forms of poetry class, we talked about various revision techniques, and one of them was "cut the fat." Somehow, I chanced on that exercise as I was wrestling with "Skull." In this exercise, the poet cuts all of the words in the poem except nouns and verbs. (Hint: It's best to do a "Save As" and mess with the poem in another file.) Then, the poet "rebuilds" the infrastructure of the poem, putting back only the absolutely necessary adjectives, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, etc. It turns out, this is exactly what the second stanza of this poem needed. Stanza 1 held up to the cutting, but through this exercise I was able to trim and then rebuild stanza 2, and voilà.

This all means that on Friday, during writing time, I can start drafting again, and leave some time for sending these new hybrids out into the world. 


drew said...

Oooh, I like that revision technique. I'm going to try it today. Thanks Sandy!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, D. Hope it helps.