Saturday Random Thoughts on Revision

I’ve been working on a presentation this evening, and I have discovered that I enjoy revising more academic, literary essays and reviews more than my own creative works.  I came about this observation this morning when I sat down and took a good long look at what I want to get done in the next few weeks when it comes to revising. 

First, I have three poems sitting at the top which I love.  However, it seems that no one else loves them.  I wrote all three last summer and they keep getting rejected again and again, with the final rejection coming in my email last night.  I’m not especially hurt by this — only bewildered, and I can explain.  I have gotten a lot of “ink” with these three poems.  Editors have said they liked them, keep up  the good work, send them more poems, etc…yet no one has taken them.  So, do dive in and do radical revisions?  Do I fine tune them, when I don’t really know what needs fine tuned?  I have had all three poems workshopped and read by other poets, so I don’t want to travel down that route again.  The worst part?  I really like all three of the poems.  So do I risk radical revision and perhaps revise myself out of a good poem (which I have done before), or do I simply believe in these poems and send them back out in the world?

Second, I love the poems I did last week, but there are days when I still feel like I am writing the same poem again and again.  I don’t know why that is considering that one poem takes place in my mother’s kitchen, another poem takes place on the slopes of a strip mine and the third is set in the evening of an old family farm.  I guess I feel that all my poems have the Rust Belt woes, and I wonder if that is a good thing.

So now, as painful as it is, I am sitting down to take another look at these six poems.  I am determined to send out more submission packets by the end of July — more literary markets are opened than I ever imagined.

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3 Comments »

  1. To encourage you, Karen – you’re a good poet, sometimes you just have to send a poem out ten or twelve or seventeen times to find it the right home.
    As far as writing the same poems – sometimes you just have to do that for a while to get it out of your system. If you’ve got obsessions, you’ve got obsessions!
    I’m not fond of revising academic works – I’m surprised to hear that you do! Maybe I’ll send you some of my reviews 🙂

  2. suzanne Said:

    Karen,
    Just because they haven’t been picked up doesn’t mean they need to be radically revised, and I would venture to say that since you’re getting such great feedback on them that they don’t need to be revised at all. All it means is that they haven’t found the right home yet. Keep sending them out. xo

  3. Karen, what they said! Seems to me like you just haven’t hit on the right journal for the poems, and it’s only a matter of time and luck till they find their home.


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