Nothing throws a wrench in a plan for peaceful writing time like a crowbar-cracking, hammer-hacking, shovel-attacking team of roofers. So, off to the coffee shop I went, toting thirteen WIP poems hot off the printer. Claiming a wingback chair and a small slice of marble table, I settled in for a refreshing revision session. Despite the comfortable atmosphere, this session served up a grande cup of frustration and only a tiny shot of actual revision. Caffeinated conclusion: Second drafts can be puzzling.
- Dump and Play – First drafts involve all the fun of tearing open and dumping out a bag of puzzle pieces, colors flashing hints of the picture to come. A filthy intoxication brought on by cardboard dust and new-project-promise. Dumping inspired words on the table, pushing a few together, recognizing an image that prompts tears or a smile.
- Work and Reality – After the joyful freedom of that initial play, you wake up to a formless, edgeless, mess of words. Many of the pieces still unturned, others unidentifiable. The coherent words you do find are loosely clustered and mostly scattered. You realize it’s going to take work (possibly a lot of work) for this puzzle to come together, for those ideas to connect.
- Corners and Color – Find a focal point to survive. Locate a corner in your poem, a word or image you know has some stability and stand on it until you build a little more foundation. Maybe it’s that eggshell fence that turns periwinkle in the shade. Stand in those colors and extend the image piece by piece until the fence is built. Like the jewelry box in one of my WIP poems; in the first draft it was just wooden, but slowly I discovered a piece that has yellow running through it, side compartments that open, and drawer pulls that dangle.
While writing about the puzzling pain of second drafts, I was thinking about a previous Dream Hour post in which I sang the praises of third drafts. Oh, if I can only buckle down and get through this second draft phase, I’ll enter that promised land of third drafts. The dark before the dawn…. Well, turns out, last year’s post was not a praise of third drafts, it was Four Things to Love about Second Drafts! Hm, moody writer mind. Good thing is, in re-reading that love letter to second drafts, I found some motivation to keep turning over the pieces of this WIP.
Any of your new projects lose their luster after that initial excitement? How do you keep from throwing all the pieces back in the box and storing it away in the garage?