Draft of the Week, #16

Considering all my whining about time and the lack of it, you might be wondering how goes the writing? In fits and starts. I’ve managed to write two drafts so far this month, which is a nice return to form, and only one of which caused agony and gnashing of teeth.

Because it was a frustrating week of drafting that poem, a few lines a day. Not for lack of having the words, but the opportunity to work on them. The heat, humidity, general malaise…for whatever reason, my boys would not leave me alone for more than a second at a time. I’d have hid out in the bathroom if that would’ve guaranteed me some time alone. But don’t be silly — for mums of small children, solitary bathroom use is a fantasy.

By the end of that week, I was fairly frothing with pent-up angst. Then the heat snap broke and I stayed up even later than usual (because I habitually sacrifice sleep to reading/writing time — I’m delirious with fatigue even as I type) to hash out this poem. The lines were now written, but I wasn’t happy with their form on the page. Writing it piecemeal, it had come out in tercets, but tercets tend to be my go-to form, so looking at the lines and poem length, I thought I’d break it up even further and try couplets. But that didn’t work — the poem felt too aerated and strung out. Then I noticed that the poem’s turn occurred at the exact center of poem. Exact. Which was interesting for a poem about the centers of things. Which led me to split the poem into two stichic stanzas of equal length. I was so pleased with the result that I’ve already submitted it — a quicker sending-out-into-the-world for this poem, but I’d spent so much time thinking about it, more time even than I spent physically writing it, it felt done — so no draft for you to read this time, I’m afraid.

I have to admit that editors and their stricter submission guidelines have me rethinking my posting of drafts, anyway. I’m considering taking a page from Sandy’s book and, instead of temporarily posting a draft, sharing process notes like this with just a few choice lines. The advantages are that I won’t put a poem out of the running for a journal I harbor aspirations to appear in (how’s that for torturous syntax!), and I won’t have to (remember to) delete the excerpted lines; they can stay forever!

5 responses to “Draft of the Week, #16”

  1. yes, it’s a worry of mine, as well, that an editor will snub me b/c something’s been on my blog. my solution is to make the poems “private” by using a password on those poems i think i may submit some day.

    it’s tedious for me and i lose readers. but it makes me feel better in the long-run.

    your plan to post excerpts sounds like a decent one, too.


  2. Great notes, Marie. I love reading about how other poets find the final form for their poems. And thanks for the shout out too!

  3. Carolee, that’s a great solution, and your poem drafts are totally worth the extra steps to read them!

    Sandy, thanks — your process notes are always so fascinating to read.

  4. A couple of years ago, I took a workshop with Molly Peacock who said a lyric poem should be drafted in one sitting. So I always feel guilty when I take several days to draft out a poem

    Therefore, I am relieved to read that there is some one else who sometimes takes several days to draft a poem.

  5. Sherry, I instinctively agree with Molly Peacock, but realistically speaking, the point is to write the poem, however long it takes!

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