Revision

7 Oct

So my goal for this semester is to send out at least two submissions a week. I figure thats about 3-5 poems per submission for a 14 week period which means 140 of my poems will be seen at least once.  The one problem I have with this is I don’t have 140 poems I want people to see. Thankfully there are many journals who accept simultaneous submissions (thank you thank you thank you thank you!) but there are quite a few who do not. What does a fabulous black diva do when faced with so many journals and not enough work? She writes. Theoretically. Or she does the unspeakable and revises.

The issue I have with revising  is….I don’t like it. As a friend of mine and I were recently discussing for a lot of my work the first poem is THE poem. Sure I can change word order or the way it looks on the page but I definitely have a problem starting all over with a concept and trying something totally different. Not that I constantly think my work needs to be completely stripped but there are times when I wonder… Should I just start over? Take for example a poem that I wrote about a child I was a camp counselor for. This kid was a cutter. He was like seven years old and when he got upset he would find something, anything sharp and try to cut his arms. I spent three weeks with the kid trying to get him to talk his problems out or at least not hurt himself. I *tried* to write a poem about it that has never worked. I don’t know if I’m too close to it or not close enough (this diacotomy tends to be the main problem of my work). I tried revising the first incarnation several times. I tried writing a completely new poem. Didn’t work. How do you revise something that seems unrevisable?

Another issue that I have with revision is that once you get started, you never stop. I happen to be very particular and I over analyze everything. If I start to revise I will constantly be revising. Take another example. The poem I published in MFA/MFYOU  was one that I was 99% happy with when I submittted it. But two months down the road I looked back and I wanted to change the whole thing. I edited and edited…stripped it bare. Then I received the notice that it was accepted. And didn’t I feel silly? All that time spent revising and someone liked it as it was.  And now everytime I see it I wonder, which version was the best version? The one that was accepted or the one that I spent a ton of time revising. Its a very confusing business.  How and When do you edit? Do you like it or hate it? There are some writers who think that revising is the real work of writers. What about you?

In the next couple of days I am going to do two things. One: Do a post about Submissions because I’ve been talking about them a lot and doing them a lot and it has to happen. Two: Do another completely selfish post about how busy I am/ The things I’m grateful for right now. I hope someone is reading and enjoying. Holla if you hear me!

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