Tag Archives: questions

On rewriting inspiration

 When you ask me to revise a poem you ask me to meet again the Muse who seldom responds to invitation. She comes in suddenly through the door left open, announcing Her presence with words that have never sat together before. She says what She has to say and goes quiet; goes away or gets broken down into elements of the universe that I absorb without an intent.

Where am I to find this forceful genius?

I’ve been told to look for Her in spaces in-between words and lines, rhyme and rhythm, movement and breaks, language and sound. But I don’t find my Muse there; I find a key in a foreign language to a map that She drew.

Is She hiding in the white glow that lights my keyboard when I switch on my workstation? So, I should work and work and work on my verses. Or, is She in the deep breath that helps me ease into sleep? Then, I should breathe and breathe and breathe with my eyes closed to trick her into appearing. Perhaps it’s She who is the trickster: a mirage; a playful spirit that whispers in my ear. In which case I am cursed with the burden of loneliness.

With or without Her it seems it’s going to take a lot of time to re-see a moment that no longer exists, to re-write it in a way so that it exists forever.

 

I am beginning to grapple with the abstract idea of “completion” in creative writing which seems even murkier when talking about poetry. I read recently that “a poem is not truly finished until it has been seriously revised” and also “be wary of a poem that appears to be finished“. Statements that, as an amateur with 8 weeks of formal education in poesy, I find contradictory.
I need to also say that the poems you have been reading on my blog are not “seriously” revised. They have been written quickly, in a matter of an hour to a few hours if the form is tough (the Sestina, which is one of the hardest forms, took me about 12 hours). These poems are here more or less as they came to me. Now I am considering that all of this work here is a) probably unfinished, which is not a bad thing as, Da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned” and b) not good, trite, tripe. It’s making me question the quality of my natural skill for this art form. Though at present I am depressed by the thought, I am hopeful that I can see this as something to learn from; that all this self-doubt will make me a better writer and that it is a natural process. I hope it happens sooner rather than later because my Muse seems to have gone into hiding for fear that I will doubt Her every word and I cannot sleep because thoughts only She can give birth to have grown louder in my head in her absence.
I have received only love from this wonderful blogging community, for which I am immensely grateful but this post is not about  wanting an ego-boost. At this point I just want to learn from you, specifically about the role of revision in your creative process. Any and all thoughts are welcome from everyone, poet or not. Who knows who might be inspired by your comment!

Here’s an example of the creative process of the great Walt Whitman,

Original Manuscript: To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman (1874).
Original Manuscript: To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman (1874).

Summary of the manuscript (from Boston Public Library)

Written in Walt Whitman’s own hand, this early manuscript version of To a Locomotive in Winter shows Whitman’s creative process as he revised and reworked the poem, changing words and even pasting paper overlays of new passages until he was satisfied with the result. This manuscript poem is dated February 23, 1874, but Whitman continued to modify the text and it was considerably altered when published in 1876 in Two Rivulets, a companion volume to the 1876 edition of Leaves of Grass. This poem was republished in the 1900 edition of Leaves of Grass, well after Whitman’s death.

Image Source and further details: Boston Public Library (CC BY 2.0)

Advertisements

Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

I was born on November 8 2014. I weighed two pages and 1 post. I was 1123 words long at birth and I was just a big crybaby – ranting and raving. Many people came to hear me though I had nothing more to offer. My birth certificate hadn’t yet been signed – I hadn’t a name. The tag around my wrist fortuitously linked me to someone important; a conscious act by my mother who had not intended on getting me noticed. I had an early growth spurt and transformed from a newborn to a new blog quickly.

I made her a blogger. Yet, she refuses to refer to herself that way. She had mocked that world on many occasions before she had me. She doesn’t want to get saddled down by the responsibilities that come with being creative. She still doesn’t want to acknowledge that I am her life right now and that I make her feel most alive.

She made me because she was having an existential crisis. From how much she mulls over me I realize that she is still in the midst of it. This is also the reason why she is unable to answer the question at hand and has as usual asked me to talk for her. She called me Another Voice. I don’t think it’s a very inspired name. It’s not original; neither attention-grabbing nor attention-seeking. My name, she tells me, is a consequence of where I reside; my domain: To Kill A Miming Bird at WordPress, Dot Com, The Internet, HTTP-1.

It’s a place with ever-changing landscapes and populated by migrant peoples. There are many scattered veterans’ colonies. I don’t know exactly which war they all fought in but I am sure that as I grow up here I will have to fight my own battles. I know that she will make me do it. There is a group of people who run this place. It can’t be an easy job.

She chose where we were to live because her cousin recommended it. She’s happy here. I can feel the joy that radiates through her to the tips of her fingertips when she cares for me everyday. She chose our exact address as homage to one of her favourite books. She can’t speak. She has been dumb most of her life, in many ways. She made me in order to kill off her miming habit. She named me Another Voiceher voice. She has made me, to speak for her, of her, and I what have to say is always by her. So the name stays, despite its plebeian nature.

I am growing now in different ways. I seem to be an aimless toddler. I pick up and eat dirt sometimes. I scratch up my knees and elbows. I outgrow my clothes too quickly and do end up looking like a mess. She redresses me from time to time and has me looking my best for everyone who comes to see me.

I think she loves me more because of the people who have been kind enough to pat my head or pinch my cheeks. Some people are regular visitors and hug me tight while others smile and walk by. There are still others I see walk to me when I am static. I can tell where they are from but I cannot tell who they are. She seems to like the attention I bring her, irrespective of the form. I seem to give her some sort of validation, over-interpreted notwithstanding, but satisfying nonetheless.

She tries her best to keep me focused but she can’t help letting me slip away. She doesn’t want to control me, to be perfectly honest. She’s tired of control. She’s tired of having a plan. She’s tired of the way she’s lived her life. Or so she tells me to tell you.

She had to say this about me,

An exposition of the known. An exploration into the unknown. And much more of less stuck up stuff.

I think this is still true. I am all this. But what I am, in essence, is a channel – for her thoughts and her dreams; to be expressed in as many ways as she wishes. I am here to let her rest for a while. I am here to realize that she has always been more than she has estimated. I am here to help her answer her existential questions. She is hoping you will stick around to watch me grow. She has now changed what I am about to accommodate all this.

I will be two months old tomorrow. I am no longer a crybaby. I am so much more now than what she had imagined. I am becoming her. Or rather, she is becoming me. In this process we hope to find each other.

http://www.andersoncommunity.com/anderson-house-blog/take-good-care-of-your-heart

(..)