Sunday, August 14, 2011

the one where I start to revise

Lay in bed this morning, late, cooing at the cat, thinking about the book I am reading (not poetry), about the novel I haven't worked on in a while (one of the ones I'm writing, not reading). Thought about why I feel intimidated or blocked or fearful about The Work now that I'm home from the first MFA residency.

Stopped thinking about that and began revising the most difficult poem (because of the content) in my head. It needs a bigger ending, something less "precious," as Mark called it, less to do with the relationship between mother and daughter and more to do with the daughter's light, the mother's hunger for the light that is beyond motherhood, if that makes sense.

(I wonder if my poems are about the struggle of finding my own light in motherhood. I love being my child's mother, but sometimes ... sometimes the fact that I am only a mother makes me feel like a dull, small little thing.)

The poem's literal content is about an adult friend's suicide, or is about the aftermath for people who knew her. Or, no, is just about this one woman's reaction, her daughter's reaction, no, not really even the daughter's reaction so much as how much life is in the daughter even while the mother is mourning a friend's death. Life and light despite death and dark.

Or something like that.

When I first drafted the poem, I wrote pages and pages of ... things. That's my process. Poems that ultimately should be a single 10-line stanza take me eight stanzas to get there, are written like essays or short stories (I'm a dreadful short story writer).

Better to cut. I'm better at cutting than adding material.

Endings. Terrible at endings. I can't seem to get to them or want to finish or be finished. I simply stop writing well.

Spare. Bony. Bony and spare.

I need to be careful that during this MFA I don't become someone else, don't start writing like some other woman. I am, already, a good writer with a strong voice (you just keep telling yourself that, ej). It would be a pity to lose myself in other people's views of where I should go next in a poem. I want to get better, but I don't want to get lost.

So I just won't let that happen, am too old to let that happen, old not really in the "too old" sense as in ....

I don't know what I mean exactly.

What if I never write another poem?

What if that's the poem?

Before day's end, I'll write a semi-satisfying revision that will get me closer to a final revision. I'll finish the "illuminate" stanza (what to do about attribution? What to do?), decide where to put the "teen network" stanza (on the cutting room floor possibly. It's not that lovely a stanza. I can lose it easily).

And I'll write more toward the end, something more ferocious than "precious," something with the word "devour" in it, something like "erupt," but not "erupt" since that belongs in that other poem (the one that went from eight stanzas to one, but should have, though I haven't really looked at it since that class period).

If I get stuck, I'll let it go, write a bad poem with Mark's four current favorite words (and a fifth of my own as instructed). Chrome, blood, Ziplock, god. And something else, something small, he suggested, something with that open-mouthed vowel sound in its center.


My daughter was hilarious last night. She went out with friends, but the "going out" didn't end up becoming what she expected, so she was home by 10:30, annoyed and beautiful. She didn't mind my laughing ...

Oh. I wasn't going to write about her here any more, that's right. Well, this blog will become faded and dull if I don't allow myself to write about my child.

Back to work with me. Might rewrite the poem completely (well, not really). Will type it in from a printed copy, line by line, to see if something comes while I'm inputting words.

(open mouth like a manuscript. burst of brilliant livid light)

1 comment:

  1. Your italicized parenthetical up there was illuminating in its own right. When I meet a mother who claims to never have experienced such a thing, I'm dubious. At best.