Revision? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Revision!

Actually, that’s not true.

I’ve been writing a bit lately, doing my usual 10 or so drafts before I show the DYPS (our writing group), and then when I show it to them, they offer about 4000 changes I need to make–actually, I think it’s become a kind of game to them–and so I abandon the poem altogether.  Which, it must be said, smacks of “crabby little baby who doesn’t get what she wants.”

I have several that are in this pile, which I haven’t gone back to look at since the sharing of them, and they’re starting to stink, the way all those Thanksgiving leftovers that are still in our fridge are starting to stink.  (I know, TMI–and yes, in case you’re worried, the cleaning the fridge is on my list of things to do ASAP.)

There is one exception–“December in Atlanta.”  This was a poem I wrote a week or so ago that I really liked the way it was.  On Revision 7 I thought, “Hey, that’s a pretty good poem.”  So I showed it to Bob who did not like it.  (You know you didn’t.)  His point, I admit grudgingly, was that the snow fantasy didn’t last the whole poem–and that was true, although that wasn’t exactly the point I was going for.  He suggested that I stick Atlanta landmarks beyond Midtown and Spaghetti Junction in it (which were already in there)–the Fox theater, Grant Field, the zoo, etc.

So I did it to please him–how’s that for being true to one’s art?

What was a short poem morphed into this whole-page-long poem, with lines 3/4 of the way across the page.  It’s really this giant, gangly poem that offends my sense of page aesthetics.  The poem doesn’t seem me-ish at all, and I think that must be why I don’t feel loving toward it.  I liked the compactness of the original, the tercets, and the four main images it contained.  I feel like this poem’s stepmother, as opposed to author–and we all know, if my past experience is anything to go by–that stepmothers hate what they are stepmothers to.

… Except, the revision is not without its charms, which I also grudgingly admit.  It is very Atlanta-y, and there are some fun images in it.  And Bob liked it, and that’s important.  I think I’m just having a hard time letting go of a poem that I really liked, but that maybe didn’t work as well as I wanted it to.   I’m not abandoning the  new version–just  setting it aside, to “age,” and to grow on me.

As for the other poems-in-process (a.k.a. currently abandoned), I’m hoping that I can come back to them over the break, when I’m fresher, and unimpeded by piddly things like work.  At least, that’s the plan.  It’s always astonishing to me how days will go by over winter break, and I’ll have accomplished nothing…