Monday, August 11, 2008

Killing Drafts

I revised a couple of poems over the last week – one was almost there but needed more work, the other was nowhere in particular, but I think it’s getting somewhere now. It can be a slow process – revision.

There’s the danger of killing off everything that was interesting in the original draft and ending up only with the bits that seem good because that kind of thing has seemed good in other people’s poems.

There’s the danger that, in trying to push the poem off from where it was before into some place more interesting, you might push things too far and end up sounding inauthentic i.e. trying too hard to be interesting!

There’s the danger of battering your head against a computer screen at ten past midnight in total frustration at a poem that won’t quite work the way you hoped when you wrote those first few lines and everything had so much promise.

There are so many ways to kill a promising draft stone dead, it’s a wonder good poems manage to get written at all. But somehow they do. I can’t yet tell whether these latest ones are good or destined for the shredder (many of my poem-attempts end up unread by anyone but me. I can imagine them all meeting up in some after-life venue for discarded poems. Not a happy place, I guess).

4 comments:

BarbaraS said...

Revision is interesting, because that's where you find out all the flaws. I don't like doing revisions under a time constraint, because like a pot of tea, you need that time to see whether the brew has drawn properly... circles and roundabouts really. I wish you well with the work, it'll get there soon.

Rob said...

Yes, although sometimes the flaws look more interesting than the flawless bits!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Many engaging reflections on revising...the only thing: I behave about it very similarly and agree on the dangers of losing the original spark BUT luckily while doing that I am with just pen and paper, I just battle with scraps of paper and throw sheets away ( ok it's not evironmental friendly ....) the computer screen would make it all sound so unreal...they go into "the screen" only when I am sure a final version is achieved..
Best wishes, Davide

Rob said...

Davide, that's interesting. I'm the opposite. I start on screen. If I get stuck, I print out what I have and, at some point, attack it with a pen. Then I revert to screen again. And so it goes on...