Monday, April 20, 2009

Cleaning Under The Couch

Preparing for Sunday's reading, and using the opportunity to do some overdue file cleanup, I've been sorting through a large (virtual) pile of writings that at one time or another I've regarded as "complete", and am fascinated to be rediscovering some of my own work. It's been interesting to me to become reacquainted with works that have been off my mind long enough to have somehow acquired some newness. Not always a good thing, of course, as without the benefit of "the moment" some of the works I thought were refined enough to be called a complete poem are a bit lifeless, pedestrian even. Worse, though, is finding something that I obviously though was a good idea, but not good enough to imbue the draft with craft. But those moments are a gift of sorts, as they remind me that it's not practical to expect myself to be objective about my own work, especially too close to its birth.

But there have also been moments where I find something I don't remember writing, at least not in that "final" form, and I see something I can see my handiwork in - or better, something that has potential but I didn't have the chops to do right when I started it, but feel like I have enough tools in the box to be able to finish today. That's probably the most exciting moment.

So I'm sorting into three piles:
  • Completed Writings - works that have been published or have had credible independent review (not that your opinion isn't important, Mom), plus some that I'm confident about. This is about half the work so far.
  • Writings to Revise - works that have something interesting -a couple of interesting lines, a good idea poorly executed (which in my case usually means it's too long). This is about a third of the work.
  • Old Writings - works that appeared in those early, forgettable, Poet's-Market-big-white-circle journals and are OK enough, but aren't interesting enough for immediate investment and which I wouldn't include in a submission package today. Some of these are candidates for the Revise pile, when it gets low enough. About a sixth of the work is in this bucket so far, but I have a feeling the remainder of the pile, which I've been slow in purging, is mostly headed for this category.

We'll see where it all winds up, but it's a good learning for me. Sharpening both my lens and my scalpel.

1 comment:

johnny said...

great post - i like to look back on past work (creative design) and see how I would have tackled/done it now with the new "tool set"