As you my have heard, I was recently published in Coup d’Etat. I would promise that this is the last time I’ll mention it, but I’d be lying.
I love the poem they accepted. I wrote it during Fall 2013 and have made only a handful of changes since. It was the first time that I’d written something and, upon opening it the next day, thought, “Wow, maybe I wouldn’t hate for someone else to read this.” For a first draft, that’s pretty good.
After that initial draft and a good, constructive critique from my poetry class, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I sent it to a couple magazines and it was rejected. To be quite honest, I wasn’t disappointed. That just meant I got to tinker with it a little bit more. Just after my last rejection, I put it away.
A few months ago, I went through my “Vault.” This is where I store copies of my stories that have handwritten edits or ideas on them. When I put a story in the Vault, even though I probably have (several) electronic copies, I don’t open them. It’s sort of a symbolic step back. In reality, it’s a Doc Martens shoe box with a stack of papers in it.
Since writing this poem, I’ve had a mental road block with most of my other stories. The language patterns for this poem just came out—something I am not used to. I always work hard for my stories and poems. They rarely, if ever, come out remotely right the first time. “War” was, by far, an exception.
Because of the ease I wrote this poem with, I started to expect that of myself. Nothing I was writing sounded like the first draft of that poem I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
That’s a lot of pressure for a writer. To want your first draft to be something you’d let someone else read is a lot to expect.
This expectation I’ve had for myself for so long was restricting. I wasn’t letting myself just get ideas on paper and finish them later. I wanted third or fourth draft quality from the first sitting. It was unrealistic.
But it’s different now. This poem I’ve loved for so long now belongs to my readers (you!) and that’s where I’ve wanted it for so long. I can now move on. I can write now and edit later; as I’ve been training to do my whole creative life.
On that note, I’m going to go revise a short story that needs a little love. Happy writing!