Thursday, January 23, 2014

Draft Notes: Little One Records the Family History

31º (feels like 22º) ~ oh wicked wind chills why have you sunk so far south?


I have no confidence in the poem I wrote this morning. Zero. None.

However, I am dancing in my seat because I did write a draft. After all, that's what I'm waking up so early to do, no? I have been spending my morning time sending out submissions of both individual poems to journals and of the fever book to publishers. I have been reading books of poetry and journals and blogs when I can. Yet, I really mean for this time to also serve as drafting time.

So, this morning, I started by collecting words from my edition of Emily Dickinson's Selected Letters and from a collection of poems I've been reading. As the words built in my journal, I had an idea and I turned the page to draft a poem. A little waft of hope rose up in me as I've been away from drafting for far too long. Alack & Alas! That draft turned into vapor.

So, back I went to my gathering of words, and slowly, torturously, phrases began to build. There were many false starts in the journal. Then, I felt like I had the beginnings of a solid body for a draft, so I turned to the computer. After I'd typed out what looked like the first stanza (which was tight and singing), the second stanza foundered. So, I put the cursor in between and hit enter a few times to create some open space. I fiddled. I cast about in my word bank. I began to despair.

And then, I heard what came next and how to keep the lines tight and singing rather than lumbering and foundering. Now I have three stanzas of what I think constitutes a whole draft. It features "Little One," the youngest of the angry sisters, and it begins this way.

When our lives are transcribed
into the permanent record,
Little One omits the foreign
courtship... .

I suppose I was in a reflective mood and pondering this idea of both genealogy (family trees in the family Bible, that sort of thing) and how we script our own stories, how much we leave out, how much we cast in the best light possible.

I really have no idea if this one will survive during revision, but at least it is there. And now, the sun is struggling to lighten the gray mass of cloud-cover, which means I must turn my attention to other things.

4 comments:

Kathleen said...

Yay for drafting! (Boo for cold drafts and wind chill factors!)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen!

John Vanderslice said...

Sounds cool, Sandy. And now we can welcome in another bout of frigid air this week!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hi, John. Thanks for commenting. I'm not happy about this weather, but it beats what's happening up home in Iowa. Stay warm!