Rolling around in the editing process

A friend and I were looking at poem and her rewrite of it. She was trying to decide which, in the end, was the better version. I noticed in the first poem she had a plethora of images, but they did not seem to come out of each other or otherwise necessarily work together. In her rewrite, she, rightly, got rid of some of the images, but then she replaced them with abstract words. And it occurred to me that her rewrite was informed by doubt. She doubted her poem. And so when she reached for ways to revise it, she leaped toward the next version with doubt instead of with trust. And she didn’t stick the landing. So somehow the editing process has to start with trust in the original impulse for the poem, so that the leap for the next version comes not from an unbalanced stance but from a — oh, I don’t know, I can’t stretch the gymnast conceit that far, as I never was even able to do a back-bend and my somersaults ended up like Harriet the Spy practicing to be an onion. But you get my meaning — I need to start the editing process from a belief in the poem. I’ve abandoned more poems than I’ve revised successfully — sometimes doubt is well founded. I’m wrestling with several poems right now, torn between trust and doubt. But if I start with a sense of “let’s say this poem was born of a strong impulse and I can trust that enough to move forward,” I might be able to move toward a revision that affirms that faith in the poem. And thusly girded, I can somersault onward, a pearl onion heading for gravy.

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One thought on “Rolling around in the editing process

  1. Love this, Marilyn. Not enough people write about the principles of creativity – how to achieve that delicate balance of letting go and selecting as we revise. Liked and shared this with Obie Writers group.

    Like

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