Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the one where I write about my process

I am a long-haired, long-winded hag. I sometimes wonder if the reason I write so much in emails or letters or posts or my journal is that when I was young, I was so shy that I rarely spoke. I had a lot of words saved up.

In poetry, compression seems to be key or one of the key elements. The people who are now reading my work really have no. idea. how long it's taken me even to compress as much as I have. They haven't been on my journey, don't know how long it's taken me to write poems that are poems rather than mini-short stories (again, I am a terrible short story writer). But it's OK. I know I'm long-winded, and I know I need to be less ... ordinary.

I can't completely change my writing process, though. It was born when I was a journalist (probably before). When I drafted an article, I included everything I learned through research and interviews, then began the process of shifting things around to make the most sense, then began cutting to fit the page (and to make sure I didn't lose the reader).

God how I love to cut. Really. I don't even mind cutting favorite lines if they don't work inside a poem.

I have to let myself write terrible drafts, though, and terrible in my case will mean long (and not pages, but stanzas. heh). Too many details, I know, too much stuff that will obscure the ...


I don't know.

Today is the first official day of the semester, and three of the four people in my little class have posted (including me - ha!). We're discussing diction and use of words in both infinite and finite ways in particular poems.

It's kind of fun.

I feel really stupid, though. I don't have the terminology. I have an intuitive sense of what works, but when people toss out words like "logopoeia" and "phanopoeia," I start to shrivel up, to dry up, to blow away. I don't know what they mean, and feel obliged to spend time looking them up and then trying to keep the definitions in my head ("phanopoeia, melopoeia, and logopoeia – the play of image, music, and meaning." Pound created these little nuggets. No wonder I don't quite understand them. I used to hide from Pound in college. Well, not literally, but his work always seemed so aggressive and active, made me feel like running away from my own inability to "get" him).

It's all right, though. I'm owning my ignorance. Just means I might have more to learn than some of the other poets, even though I am older.


This post sucks. It's not very well written, but I don't care. We'll just call it what it is: a bad public journal entry.


My daughter left for her dad's about 30 minutes ago. She was with me for a long time, for more than two weeks. I was so terrified and insecure about this grad school thing that I can't believe she stayed around so long. I wasn't very good company.

It wasn't because of me that she stayed. She's missed her daddy. She was just too busy and too tired to make the shift. She'll be at her dad's place for a while now, at least through the first two weeks of school.

I will miss her so much.

I wonder how many times I've written the above bits, "My daughter is at her dad's I miss her so much," bits. 52,086 times? More?

There is nothing wrong with accepting that your best role, your favorite role, is being her mother. Nothing at all. You can be other things around that, but you love that she is your child, that she is your child.


  1. sweet jesus, your last paragraph. sigh. i think i forgot to breathe after i read that. i am going to print that out and tape it to my desk/macbook/mirror/dashboard/etc. love. -sara

  2. I'm a big fan of your first paragraph here. Maybe my introverted nature from as early in my life as I can recall is the reason for my own verbosity - I'd never thought of it like that before!

  3. Elizabeth Marie - from the first paragraph to the last - ohmyword so much resonated!! Thank you so much for THE WAY you write - the way you share!!

  4. I love that in the middle of your entry, I found myself researching Pope's invented diction around poetry. And I love thar his thoughts felt too expansive, and yet too precise, to be contained by existing words. I felt not at all like an idiot. Just the opposite, I am thrilled by any writer who challenges me, inspires new thought, prompts discovery and learning. You do that. Whatever the process, that is the result...and I'm awed by the raw honesty.of your words.