Saturday, October 15, 2016

Responding to a Rewrite Request

Image © Lori Gravley
I’m always rewriting my work—from small edits to larger revisions.  For me, this is where my work as a writer begins to feel like work: learning to see my poem as it is on the page and responding to it in ways that make the poem better.

Just reading that last sentence makes me shiver.  I realize that I’m surrounded, psychologically speaking, by my projections.  My husband very rarely comes into focus for me as himself, he’s often seen by me as who I think he is, the same for my children and my friends.  I’m working on this.  Yoga and meditation help.  Compassionate Communication helps. Getting older and becoming more aware helps. 

In revising my writing, the helps are the same.  Being patient, sitting with what is, being aware of common patterns, and running my ideas through wise guides help me see my work as it is and not how I expect it to be.

So does the list of revision thoughts I’ve compiled from feedback I’ve gotten through the years.

What’s making me think of this now when I'm immersed in planning my next novel is the feedback I just got from an editor.  He asked me to remove the I-ness from a poem.  My first response was, of course, the nerve.  But I slept on it and woke this morning to give it a try.  It was easy to remove the I and the new poem was a better poem.  I’ve added *examine the I-ness* to my list of revision strategies, it joins other useful tactics that I frequently apply when I revise my poems:

--inspect the articles and conjunctions,
--kill your darlings (find the poetic word or vocab word that sticks out in the poem and delete it),
--look for the form (is it organic or is it leaning toward a sonnet, a ghazal, couplets?)
--break the line, space the line,
--write to the turn (find the turn in the poem and then pay attention to what leads up to that turn and what happens after it),
--explore cutting the first and last lines,
and now --examine the I-ness.

Update: The advice he gave must have worked.  My poem, "Late Summer Song," will be published online at the beautiful e-zine Plum Tree Tavern. 

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