20 September 2007

The wrecking ball.


I have a lot of poems that need to be revised, in one way or another. Instead of doing this I've just been writing new poems. It's like pouring all of the miscellaneous junk from your counters into a drawer, and then finally not being able to shut it. Do you then start another drawer?

Does anyone really like revising? I like little tweaks, but cutting multiple chunks, and trying to figure out how to end something. . . ugh.

I was hoping to send out some subs tomorrow, but oy, these recommendation letters. Maybe I'll be able to do one packet. Just maybe.

9 comments:

Frank said...

What do I know, but I say keep writing as long as you're moved to write new stuff. That way, if you have "writing time," but you don't have new work in your head, you can spend the time revising some older things. Does that make sense?

Basically, it always seems like a good idea to write while the writing's hot. Revision can be done anytime.

(PS - alluding to your "writing time" is, unfortunately, a bit of a nudge-nudge. You're so busy!)

Penultimatina said...

BTW--that's what's left of the McDonald's on Exchange.

PS--I didn't knock it down.

Justin Evans said...

I tend to do a lot of revision as I write. So much so, that all I have left is a bit of tweaking a word here or there after my first draft.

It's something about the drafting process which forces me to continually revise as I write. I don't ever consider anything just a draft.

Oliver de la Paz said...

I'm like Justin. I revise as I write. And I don't save various drafts of poems at different stages. Once it's tweaked, it's tweaked.

Do I like revising? No. Not at all. I prefer creating stuff, but when I have to revise, I play "revision games." You know, read the poem backwards, triple space the poem, etc..

Diane Lockward said...

I love revision. For me, it's where the real poem comes into being. My first drafts are almost always hideous. I typically do 2-3 dozen drafts before I am satisfied. I overwrite so have to do a lot of painful cutting--ouch, ouch, ouch. But I also enjoy seeing a pared-down line pop out with new energy. Revision is the embodiment of the Pleasure / Pain Principle.

Adam Deutsch said...

I kinda go like Diane. Maybe not that many drafts, but it's fun to take things apart and put them back together differently.

Steven D. Schroeder said...

I find that when I start tweaking a poem a phrase or a line or so after I thought it was finished, it rarely ends up anything but tweaked right on out of whatever made it good to start with. On the other hand, I like wholesale hack-and-slash on poems where the concept was good but only a key line or two worked. I hope there aren't really too many of those anymore, but...

Frank said...

Off the subject, but will you be assembling a coffee table book of your camera/phone shots?

Matthew Thorburn said...

Mary, I love revising but it's sometimes (I mean usually) hard to find the time to really get into it. Recently I tried something different -- writing a new draft of a poem from scratch, rather than revising my current draft, then comparing the two versions later and stitching together the best parts of each.

I did this accidentally when I thought of a different way to solve a problem in the poem I had been working on, but -- being at the office -- didn't have the current draft with me.

I also always recommend revising out loud. I find I hear a lot of problems I can't see.

Oh and as a small-apartmented New Yorker, I find more and more that I have to work one poem at a time. I can't pile up too many different drafts -- my kitchen only has one drawer.