How do you edit?
#1
Perhaps this thread has been done, and done again--yet, my searching returned no results.

How do you edit your poems? What does the process look like for you?

After posting my first poem, I begin to edit (I'd never edited a poem before, because I've never attempted to cultivate it as a skill). My process went as follows:
-I asked myself what each stanza meant, and if it was consistent with what I was trying to convey; the inconsistencies were great.
-I rewrote trying to stay closer to specific ideas. Then, I deleted unnecessary words.
-Next, I used the copy and paste function, ad infinitum, trying to decide on some sort of word order.
-Lastly, I changed specific words.

The result was that the edited poem contained not a single line present in the original poem. Does this happen often to others?
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#2
I'm actually not sure if this threads been done before. Its worth exploring.

For me, editing is where the real writing begins. You polish your first draft and make it as good as possible. If you're using a workshop like this one you put it up for comments. People point out areas that you might not have considered, some of which you agree with. If you're not using a workshop it may just sit in a collection of your writing somewhere. Maybe six months down the road you pick and up and read it and notice that there are all these things that don't seem as good as you remember.

All of this thought happens before I sit down to edit. While I think you can correct the stupid errors you missed immediately good edits take time away from the poem. I try to let a poem sit a month, or sometimes over a year before trying the edit. I've just learned that instant edits tend to warp the poem in ways I really don't want. As you say here, everything tends to change. You need time to gain the perspective to weigh criticism. Here's the other thing: assuming your working on your writing your getting better. Let's say someone said: This poem lacks imagery and subtlety.

You think "crap, I agree, how do I add imagery and subtlety to this poem?" You sit down to edit. I think this is the wrong tact, especially if you're just starting out.

A better approach might be to work on some new poems that are more subtle and use images to show rather than tell. They may have flaws too but you're building skill with areas that you recognize as weaknesses.

Six months goes by, you've gotten better. You pick up the old poem you ask yourself again. What was I trying to say? What is salvageable? You begin your edit.

----
Okay let me give you an example (realize I've probably done 40 or so edits on this piece. But I'll take you through a few of the big ones and explain some of the why behind them.

Everything starts with an idea. I had read a biography on Howard Hughes. He'd written a 7 or 8 page memo instructing his staff on how to open a can of peaches. I wanted to write about that. I was experimenting with form at the time and wasn't that good at it. I wrote a fairly terrible ruba'i that didn't get me anywhere close to what I needed:

First attempt:

Peaches

It was not the first time your wings caught fire,
Flying for the sun higher and higher,
Not made of wax, or spruce, as some report.
Your ego alone drove this desire.

Now packed in a warehouse, your dreams to thwart,
Covered over with dust all flights cut short.
The “greatest” pilot of all now brought low,
by a need for control without resort.

You wrote instructions on the ground below.
Memos on what servants needed to know.
How to remove a bug, or close a door;
You had infinite wisdom to bestow.

Germs were everywhere on the walls and floor;
No matter how they cleaned, still there were more.
Could you eat even peaches in a can?
To eat what’s been touched, a thing to abhor.

Scrub off the label the order began,
Wash the bare metal next step in the plan,
When spearing the peach let the fork be light
For fruit touching steel is unfit for man.

Though these many rules you made them recite
You wasted away in a sick mad blight,
Codeine enough to stop five beating hearts
Coursing though veins to end this final flight.


Ugh, I know. The rhyme was awful. The imagery sucked. I was pulled into the form and abandoned writing well. I sat it down for awhile. Went back and reread parts of Hughes Bio. I starting taking notes. I realized that details we're what mattered to Howard.

I built a working title: Howard and the Details. I wrote the word peaches. and then started looking for an opening line that would take me there. This was therefore Edit 1: Complete scrap of everything but the idea.

Second Version:

Howard and the Details

They just never noticed
the details. How Jane Russell
had four nipples. How peas
were different sizes. How peaches were

dirty, dirty, dirty.
How germs crawled
all over your face,
hands. Touch
food with those?
Make the peaches dirtier
filthy.

They didn’t know
what to do. Fix the blouse,
it’s the seam. Line them up
with a fork for
perspective. And if I’m going
to eat those things:
Scrub off the label!
Clean the bare metal
of the can. Be careful
with the fork, don’t touch
anything else. Did you remember
to cover your hands
with paper towels?

They didn’t notice. They didn’t listen
And the damn plane was birch
not spruce.


Okay, this felt closer. There were quite a few flaws though. Which took time to see. The line breaks needed work. The opening line was static. The lines needed more tweaking. It isn't easy for me to recreate every little edit, but here's its current form so you can see what was done. I just went through line by line and took out anything that I felt wasn't needed, and tried to emphasize for effect. For example the first sentence: They just never noticed the details. Awful. So what? Who Cares? Not evocative. The title already leads you there. What the hell is just doing there? Okay, here's where it sits today.

Version 3:

Jane Russell had
four nipples.
Peas were
different sizes.
Peaches were
dirty, dirty, dirty.
Germs crawl
all over your face,

hands, touch
food with those?

Make the peaches
dirtier.

They didn’t pay attention.
Bette Davis’ bed was covered
in orchids, not gardenias.
Tiny blisters on the palms?
Syphilis! No, film editing.
Mason jars—perfect for storing
urine, and TV
dinners should always
remove that soggy-cherry thing.
Peach cobbler is better.

They didn’t know
what to do.
Fix the blouse;
it’s an engineering problem.
Line them up
use a fork for perspective.
To prevent sores
Mop with lye.
Burn the double-breasted tuxedo,
and all white dinner jackets.
Remember old clothes
are more friendly.

And if I’m going
to eat those things?

Scrub off the label!
Clean the bare metal
of the can. Be careful
with the fork; don’t touch
anything else. Did you remember
to cover your hands
with six Kleenex (not five or seven)?

They didn’t notice. They didn’t listen.
And the damn plane was birch
not spruce.


Well there be more edits? Probably, though at a certain point poems do get to a mostly done state. I probably wrote way more than you wanted, but I hope its helpful.

Best,

Todd
The secret of poetry is cruelty.--Jon Anderson
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#3
To say something short and simple, since I have no advice: So many different kinds of people have said so many different things about things that I write, good and bad, so I just do what I feel I need to do. I think that so much of the poetry that gets published and gets most publicity in the podcasts on the Poetry Foundation site and in poetry magazines elsewhere is extremely boring.

I have a handful of poems that I've been working on for years. But for the most part, I am satisfied with poems within a few days. Satisfied with the individual poem, but not finished. Poetry comes before art, and art comes before good poetry. I think it's a good thing that I've read a lot of poetry, and read and listened to so much of what people say about poetry. That stuff comes out, and helps me craft my poems. But I have a very primitive, but not altogether superstitious, approach to writing. If that affects my writings in a negative way, I don't mind to hear people say it. But it's how I work.

I don't like to give advice, it's hard enough taking it.
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#4
MR Shankly wrote:
the inconsistencies were great.

HystericalHystericalHystericalHysterical




The result was that the edited poem contained not a single line present in the original poem. Does this happen often to others?

I have begun to save different versions of the same text.
a thing I would like to start a poll for:

I have noticed that women mostly like the rough and raw style of my texts, while males prefer the posh and more sophisticated revisions.
there are exceptions to this of course.

Is anyone familiar with that?

(02-08-2013, 09:29 PM)Todd Wrote:  I'm actually not sure if this threads been done before. Its worth exploring.

For me, editing is where the real writing begins. You polish your first draft and make it as good as possible. If you're using a workshop like this one you put it up for comments. People point out areas that you might not have considered, some of which you agree with. If you're not using a workshop it may just sit in a collection of your writing somewhere. Maybe six months down the road you pick and up and read it and notice that there are all these things that don't seem as good as you remember.

All of this thought happens before I sit down to edit. While I think you can correct the stupid errors you missed immediately good edits take time away from the poem. I try to let a poem sit a month, or sometimes over a year before trying the edit. I've just learned that instant edits tend to warp the poem in ways I really don't want. As you say here, everything tends to change. You need time to gain the perspective to weigh criticism. Here's the other thing: assuming your working on your writing your getting better. Let's say someone said: This poem lacks imagery and subtlety.

You think "crap, I agree, how do I add imagery and subtlety to this poem?" You sit down to edit. I think this is the wrong tact, especially if you're just starting out.

A better approach might be to work on some new poems that are more subtle and use images to show rather than tell. They may have flaws too but you're building skill with areas that you recognize as weaknesses.

Six months goes by, you've gotten better. You pick up the old poem you ask yourself again. What was I trying to say? What is salvageable? You begin your edit.

----
Okay let me give you an example (realize I've probably done 40 or so edits on this piece. But I'll take you through a few of the big ones and explain some of the why behind them.

Everything starts with an idea. I had read a biography on Howard Hughes. He'd written a 7 or 8 page memo instructing his staff on how to open a can of peaches. I wanted to write about that. I was experimenting with form at the time and wasn't that good at it. I wrote a fairly terrible ruba'i that didn't get me anywhere close to what I needed:

First attempt:

Peaches

It was not the first time your wings caught fire,
Flying for the sun higher and higher,
Not made of wax, or spruce, as some report.
Your ego alone drove this desire.

Now packed in a warehouse, your dreams to thwart,
Covered over with dust all flights cut short.
The “greatest” pilot of all now brought low,
by a need for control without resort.

You wrote instructions on the ground below.
Memos on what servants needed to know.
How to remove a bug, or close a door;
You had infinite wisdom to bestow.

Germs were everywhere on the walls and floor;
No matter how they cleaned, still there were more.
Could you eat even peaches in a can?
To eat what’s been touched, a thing to abhor.

Scrub off the label the order began,
Wash the bare metal next step in the plan,
When spearing the peach let the fork be light
For fruit touching steel is unfit for man.

Though these many rules you made them recite
You wasted away in a sick mad blight,
Codeine enough to stop five beating hearts
Coursing though veins to end this final flight.


Ugh, I know. The rhyme was awful. The imagery sucked. I was pulled into the form and abandoned writing well. I sat it down for awhile. Went back and reread parts of Hughes Bio. I starting taking notes. I realized that details we're what mattered to Howard.

I built a working title: Howard and the Details. I wrote the word peaches. and then started looking for an opening line that would take me there. This was therefore Edit 1: Complete scrap of everything but the idea.

Second Version:

Howard and the Details

They just never noticed
the details. How Jane Russell
had four nipples. How peas
were different sizes. How peaches were

dirty, dirty, dirty.
How germs crawled
all over your face,
hands. Touch
food with those?
Make the peaches dirtier
filthy.

They didn’t know
what to do. Fix the blouse,
it’s the seam. Line them up
with a fork for
perspective. And if I’m going
to eat those things:
Scrub off the label!
Clean the bare metal
of the can. Be careful
with the fork, don’t touch
anything else. Did you remember
to cover your hands
with paper towels?

They didn’t notice. They didn’t listen
And the damn plane was birch
not spruce.


Okay, this felt closer. There were quite a few flaws though. Which took time to see. The line breaks needed work. The opening line was static. The lines needed more tweaking. It isn't easy for me to recreate every little edit, but here's its current form so you can see what was done. I just went through line by line and took out anything that I felt wasn't needed, and tried to emphasize for effect. For example the first sentence: They just never noticed the details. Awful. So what? Who Cares? Not evocative. The title already leads you there. What the hell is just doing there? Okay, here's where it sits today.

Version 3:

Jane Russell had
four nipples.
Peas were
different sizes.
Peaches were
dirty, dirty, dirty.
Germs crawl
all over your face,

hands, touch
food with those?

Make the peaches
dirtier.

They didn’t pay attention.
Bette Davis’ bed was covered
in orchids, not gardenias.
Tiny blisters on the palms?
Syphilis! No, film editing.
Mason jars—perfect for storing
urine, and TV
dinners should always
remove that soggy-cherry thing.
Peach cobbler is better.

They didn’t know
what to do.
Fix the blouse;
it’s an engineering problem.
Line them up
use a fork for perspective.
To prevent sores
Mop with lye.
Burn the double-breasted tuxedo,
and all white dinner jackets.
Remember old clothes
are more friendly.

And if I’m going
to eat those things?

Scrub off the label!
Clean the bare metal
of the can. Be careful
with the fork; don’t touch
anything else. Did you remember
to cover your hands
with six Kleenex (not five or seven)?

They didn’t notice. They didn’t listen.
And the damn plane was birch
not spruce.


Well there be more edits? Probably, though at a certain point poems do get to a mostly done state. I probably wrote way more than you wanted, but I hope its helpful.

Best,

Todd

liked this!
there are some texts of mine that move me more than others. I "treat" them differently. sometimes I can go for never-ending revisions (the copy editing thang)based upon on the feedback my texts reveive from others. , but not with every text.
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#5
Todd, I appreciate your response. It was exactly want I was interested in seeing, and hearing that you often take long breaks between writing a poem and editing it seems quite logical.
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#6
Excellent question and I'm quite surprised this hasn't been discussed in detail before -- I guess there are a lot of things we take for granted. When you first start writing, editing is a very difficult process and you often don't have a clue where to start. This is because you don't really know enough about the craft to decide what is and isn't important to your poem, and it's why we always say that it's vital to read as much poetry as you can. Familiarity with the genre is the first and biggest step.

Now, bear in mind that as Sarah said, the poem you end up with may actually be very different from that which you intended to write in the first place. This is not at all unusual. As we write, the idea that gave us the impetus in the first place becomes a springboard to a whole set of possibilities and the process itself brings these out in often unexpected ways. Enjoy what your mind brings forth and encourage yourself to use these strange ideas -- they're usually where the real poetry is. The editing process is about spotting those and then finding a thread that ties your poem together. You really can't do it as a writer, you need to take a step back and become a reader. Look at your poem critically. If you can't make sense of it, even to the point of getting a general mood from it, then it needs some serious work because there's no chance that a reader is going to want to work hard enough to bother if you don't.

Then we come to the next golden rule of poetry: saying the maximum amount in the fewest possible words. That does not mean scraping it back to bare bones and removing all the prepositions etc -- we are not talking about minimalist poetry (though if that's what you want to write, do it carefully and with purpose). Choose the words that give exactly the right shades of meaning. Be discerning. Don't over-modify and pad things out with adjectives -- a string of adjectives is far less effective than exactly the right metaphor. Be active -- don't let your poem languish passively in the mediocre, give it something that makes it shout out and be noticed.

As has often been said, there are no new subjects -- but there are certainly new ways to approach old subjects, and those are the poems that are going to stand out. Every time I read same-poem-different-words about love-and-loss or misery-and-despair, I turn into an automaton. Sure, I can still read it but really, I wonder why I'm bothering. I know how it's going to turn out. I want to be surprised, and so do most readers. Nobody wants to spend their entire life watching new versions of the same movie, and it's exactly the same with poetry.

The most important piece of advice, however, is this: don't take out the "you". Inject yourself into everything you write. I don't mean that every poem should be autobiographical -- of course not, that would be dull -- but every poem should have your own unique flair, something that sets it apart from the generic, something that convinces the reader that you actually care about the subject and about the reader's enjoyment.

Further to this (and thanks for the reminder!) I have stuck a thread called "Why Should I Edit?" in the Novice Forum.
It could be worse
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#7
great thread...

here's my questions.

when i give feedback i often don't know if what i think is right or wrong, should i still give feedback?
another problem i have is when i get conflicting feedback, how do i decide which if any to use. what if most of the feedback says do this, and one says do that, should i do that if i think the "that" is correct. when do i stop editing something, if i publish a poem can i edit it afterwards?

does anyone else feel the same way or is it just me Sad
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#8
(02-11-2013, 12:56 PM)billy Wrote:  when i give feedback i often don't know if what i think is right or wrong, should i still give feedback?
Yes. There is no "right or wrong" in poetry. If you've arrived at a meaning from your reading of the poem, then there must be something in that poem -- combined with your own experiences -- that's got you to that point. If it's not what the writer intended, then it gives the writer something to consider: whether or not something in the poem needs more clarity, or whether he/she is happy for alternative interpretations and will leave it alone. No two people will get exactly the same thing out of a poem (unless the poem is very shallow, simplistic and bleedingly obvious, in which case the poet has bigger problems!)

(02-11-2013, 12:56 PM)billy Wrote:  another problem i have is when i get conflicting feedback, how do i decide which if any to use. what if most of the feedback says do this, and one says do that, should i do that if i think the "that" is correct. when do i stop editing something, if i publish a poem can i edit it afterwards?
You are the one in control of your poem. You should listen to feedback, then take a step back from the poem to consider whether as a reader you feel the poem is enhanced by any changes suggested. Editing just for its own sake is pointless tinkering. If something is just the way you want it, leave it alone -- but be prepared for others to possibly disagree with you. Even published, well-respected poets have their critics and detractors. Own your art and have the confidence to stand behind it -- but remember that there's a big difference between the confidence of someone who knows they've done a good job, and the arrogance of someone who just expects others to agree with them.

Many poets edit after their poems have been published. You'll often see slightly different versions of famous poems. They're rarely edited much, of course, because the (reasonable) expectation is that by the time you're happy to publish something, you should have put a great deal of consideration into it and made it as close to perfect as possible.

(02-11-2013, 12:56 PM)billy Wrote:  does anyone else feel the same way or is it just me Sad
I'm prepared to bet that plenty of other people have similar questions about their poetry. How you feel about everything else... well, that might be just you Hysterical
It could be worse
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#9
Leanne made a very crucial point in her last post:

"Own your art and have the confidence to stand behind it -- but remember that there's a big difference between the confidence of someone who knows they've done a good job, and the arrogance of someone who just expects others to agree with them. "

That statement is as true in my opinion as all the points she made. I just want to add a personal thought:

Often there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Especially if you get mixed reactions. Lots of fine-tuning needed and patience (I guess on both sides).

cheers

Serge
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#10
To me, editing poems is similar to the process of distillation. You're trying to get to the essence of an idea or concept. Sometimes after looking at a poem for a long time, I realise that to achieve what I wanted, I need to start anew, and a completely different poem is born. Most of the times, I slowly chisel away at the inadequate and weaker parts of the poem until I get what I want. Before I post them up for critique, I usually go through 1 to 20 edits depending on the first draft, and then when I no longer know how I can make it better I put it up in the forum.
Back!
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#11
Just giving a bump to this interesting thread.
billy wrote:welcome to the site. make it your own, wear it like a well loved slipper and wear it out. ella pleads:please click forum titles for posting guidelines, important threads. New poet? Try Poetic DevicesandWard's Tips

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#12
one of the things i do is write the poem.
i then do a harsh.long edit where i try and pick it apart. i then do another quick edit or two. and post the thing.
it's guaranteed i made and missed at least one or more basic mistakes that i should have caught. the workshopping helps me realise the fact i wait a good while then do a few edits and wait a long time before doing any more.
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#13
First, read and edit your poem at least ten times before posting it. Second, always post your draft in serious workshopping. Don't be overly afraid or too cocky about your work that you can't put it under the microscope. It can be improved. Many times you will discover that you keep reading over the same mistake that others will catch. Nothing beats a fresh read and a different perspective. The best authors living or dead had editors. Inevitably, I will find new edits, and surprisingly, resurrections of some of my original ideas, lines or words. Once you post a few revisions and are satisfied, put it down. However, you need to come back later and review it again. If you are like me, you will still find something to tweak and you still won't be completely happy with it. Tongue
My new watercolor: 'Nightmare After Christmas'/Chris
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#14
It's true that most published writers have editors. But I hope it's not true that most writers have revisionists; not for their own writing. A writer has to be forceful. There needs to be a personality behind a poem, even if it's nowhere to be found in the subject matter. You put your stuff out in the world, and it's liked or disliked or ignored or whatever.
If you work on a poem, you write it, you make it. It's published, and others can do what they want with it. It doesn't seem helpful at all for a writer to be told not to be cocky or egotistical. A person that's cocky and egotistical that can't write is just a person that can't write. A bad writer is a bad writer whether they take advice or suggestions or not. They can improve, taking advice can help them improve. Maybe. But writing isn't done on an assembly line. Maybe it is in some places, in workshops with ties or hopeful ties to publications that have a "house style" or whatever they call it. But it just seems that a poem can be workshopped to death. There is a difference between editing and revising. Editors and other writers can help edit a poem or a story or a book, but writers write. I mean people already think of writers as lazy enough, sitting around all day making stuff up like a daydreamer. Writers write their stuff, they revise their stuff. That's what writing is. If they can't do that then they can't write.
Nobody ever wants to publish anything I write, so I'm not saying whether I think I can write or not. But obviously I think I can do something or I wouldn't be doing it.
There's nothing wrong with getting suggestions and revising your writing, but at some point a writer has to be able to believe that they can do it on their own. Criticism is a wonderful thing to have. But being bogged down with some notion of having to be a humble, vapid team player isn't going to accomplish very many wonders for poetry.
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#15
(05-20-2014, 09:24 AM)rowens Wrote:  It's true that most published writers have editors. But I hope it's not true that most writers have revisionists; not for their own writing. A writer has to be forceful. There needs to be a personality behind a poem, even if it's nowhere to be found in the subject matter. You put your stuff out in the world, and it's liked or disliked or ignored or whatever.
If you work on a poem, you write it, you make it. It's published, and others can do what they want with it. It doesn't seem helpful at all for a writer to be told not to be cocky or egotistical. A person that's cocky and egotistical that can't write is just a person that can't write. A bad writer is a bad writer whether they take advice or suggestions or not. They can improve, taking advice can help them improve. Maybe. But writing isn't done on an assembly line. Maybe it is in some places, in workshops with ties or hopeful ties to publications that have a "house style" or whatever they call it. But it just seems that a poem can be workshopped to death. There is a difference between editing and revising. Editors and other writers can help edit a poem or a story or a book, but writers write. I mean people already think of writers as lazy enough, sitting around all day making stuff up like a daydreamer. Writers write their stuff, they revise their stuff. That's what writing is. If they can't do that then they can't write.
Nobody ever wants to publish anything I write, so I'm not saying whether I think I can write or not. But obviously I think I can do something or I wouldn't be doing it.
There's nothing wrong with getting suggestions and revising your writing, but at some point a writer has to be able to believe that they can do it on their own. Criticism is a wonderful thing to have. But being bogged down with some notion of having to be a humble, vapid team player isn't going to accomplish very many wonders for poetry.

"Workshopped to death," have you been reading my threads again.Big Grin

I've noticed that, just as one would think, the more experienced posters here are much less likely to fall into that trap. Editing is a learned skill, and beginners like me are bound to muck it up sometimes. I wouldn't advise anyone to delete their original, but the only way to learn is to do. I do my best to seriously consider all critique, I make changes that sometimes hurt the poem and sometimes help it. It's not the fault of the critics when the poem gets worse, it's my own inability to know what's best for the poem. For me it's a learning process that I hope will lead to me being able to hear my own work better and start out with better writing on my own.

The humble are not necessarily vapid, and a team is only successful when the players challenge each other to set the bar higher.
billy wrote:welcome to the site. make it your own, wear it like a well loved slipper and wear it out. ella pleads:please click forum titles for posting guidelines, important threads. New poet? Try Poetic DevicesandWard's Tips

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#16
If you don't like the word vapid there, swap it in your mind for timid.
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#17
just to be clear as to what the serious workshop is for;
mainly it's for a poem that you feel is almost done, you see no discernible faults with and have edited more than once or twice.

anything you don't see as polished work should go in one of the other two forums.

(05-20-2014, 08:28 AM)ChristopherSea Wrote:  First, read and edit your poem at least ten times before posting it. Second, always post your draft in serious workshopping. Don't be overly afraid or too cocky about your work that you can't put it under the microscope. It can be improved. Many times you will discover that you keep reading over the same mistake that others will catch. Nothing beats a fresh read and a different perspective. The best authors living or dead had editors. Inevitably, I will find new edits, and surprisingly, resurrections of some of my original ideas, lines or words. Once you post a few revisions and are satisfied, put it down. However, you need to come back later and review it again. If you are like me, you will still find something to tweak and you still won't be completely happy with it. Tongue
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#18
(05-20-2014, 10:34 AM)rowens Wrote:  If you don't like the word vapid there, swap it in your mind for timid.

I know people who are humble but not timid. In relationship to workshopping, I don't think you have to be either to choose which suggestions to pass on and which to attempt to use. I'm not saying workshopping is right for everyone or every poem, I just think it gives more life than death to poetry for the poet who can use it well, and that's a learned skill.
JMHO Big Grin
billy wrote:welcome to the site. make it your own, wear it like a well loved slipper and wear it out. ella pleads:please click forum titles for posting guidelines, important threads. New poet? Try Poetic DevicesandWard's Tips

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#19
(05-20-2014, 09:24 AM)rowens Wrote:  But it just seems that a poem can be workshopped to death. There is a difference between editing and revising.
so true, often it's best to let the poem site for a while before doing an edit. i have been guilty of editing using every bit of feedback i was given and turned the mess i started with into a bigger mess. really think about any edits you do.

well said on the workshopping thing ella
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#20

The most useful editing device for me is time.
It takes a week or so for me to forget the parts in my head
and see only what's on the paper.
So I edit a little bit every week or month or year depending
on where I've misplaced it.
(In the meantime there are those other poems from the weeks
or months or years before... Smile )


-------------------------------------------------------
Addendum:
The above pertains to personal editing. Someone else (audience/
editor) doesn't have to wait a week to forget 90%, they come at
it 100% forgetful. There's a tradeoff. They know what they see,
but don't know what you want. You know what you want (well, sort
of - gets better with experience), but you don't know what they
see. (Exception: If you're feeding at the PigPen learning trough;
the senior folks here not only know what they see, they know what
you want.)

But in between? The 'in between' is an analog of the Heisenberg principle:
The more an editor knows what you want, the less an editor knows
what she/he sees. (Hence explaining many famous-author death-spirals.)

There's an exception to this (actually a definition): Editors of
publications know what they want and absolutely, positively,
without-a-doubt, and any other cliché you care to come up with;
KNOW what they see. The definition part is that you have to
write something that they KNOW what they see. (And since I've
never quite mastered this, you should regard most of the above
with suspicion.)

almost terse
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