You count the raindrops long after they stop falling, losing count when you reach
two-hundred and seven.
Time means nothing to you
because nothing fills it.
Light once split between your fingers,
but now you see grey,
not every day but most days—
it feels like staring at smudged charcoal
or weeds as they wither and die
or wet cement without a memory.
Something shadows you
like the mountains you dream of screaming from,
where you’d lose your voice
and break your lungs,
but you’d embrace release,
no matter how much it shreds you,
because you want to feel it.
Sometimes you won’t reach those heights,
so instead you pluck petals from flowers,
tearing and splintering, thorns slithering beneath skin.
Noise howls past your skull like silence,
and you wonder
how long it will last.
and it is like music.
You wish for the melody to linger.
When it does, you watch the ocean
as the moon reflects its face
on the water—
it looks like blurry stars in a rippling galaxy.
Peace makes you think,
and you think about
cracking open your ribs,
peeling back skin and bones.
Will you find only mangled flesh and darkness?
You find other things,
like roots dancing over your heart,
buried beneath soil and blood,
warmed and fed by your breaths.
You glimpse something close to a garden, and you hope that soon flowers will bloom.
And bloom they will.
Yet another poem that was sitting in a file, waiting to be seen.
This is going to be a whiny post about the revision side of writing, a result of finishing the fourth draft of my short story about gay witches, which, for the most part, is an enjoyable experience. On the other hand, it is a soul-sucking, energy-draining process that makes me question if there is an end in sight.
See, continuing with the example of this story, the big changes aredone, but not to the best standard. Right now, the story feels like a mess of great bits, okay bits, and skeleton bits that still need more layers of skin on them. And when it feels like it is more of a mess than a story nearing completion, you wonder whether you will actually get it to where you want it to be.
My usual solution would be another rewrite, but it seems those are no longer needed. Line edits is the next step, for pacing, detail, ensuring my voice is consistent throughout, maybe add in a scene or two, but when you’re someone who rushes through (the end of) rewrites and then rushes through copy-edits without any real nitty-gritty, picking-things-apart stage, the idea of those kind of edits makes my impatience crawl out of the darkness and rear its ugly head.
Because most of the sucking part of revision for me comes from impatience. At the start, things go well, but then various things come to mind: fear of failure, fear of never making progress, feeling as though you aren’t working hard enough, feeling as though it must be perfect, which is something I blogged about as well.When those thoughts latch on, getting rid of them becomes the annoying focus.
The clearest solution for this story will be forcing myself through a slow line edit, adjusting it as many times as possible before sending it off to a sensitivity reader, followed by several more edits and adjustments before finally sending it off to magazines.
Although, when anxiety does creep in, sometimes the excitement and passion is strong enough to overwhelm the former, especially when reading over certain passages, such as:
As a girl of ten, she wore sheep-fur and boots stuffed with cheap scraps of cloth, disappearing within the layers. Snow crunched under her, soaking her ankles and calves as she watched her mother, a woman with chestnut hair and blue eyes, wade deeper into Nyx, a lake known for its glow at night. A glow that lit the way now, spotlighting the odd flurries that fell from the clear sky.
Posts such as this one by Rachel Swirsky tend to help as well, knowing that published authors are all in the same boat, tweaking things and creating draft after draft, something that will be worth remembering when I, and other authors, start to stumble down a path of self-doubt.
Venting this post has helped, almost making me feel one-hundred percent about approaching these line edits. Almost.
What are your feelings on revising? Or what are the more difficult parts of the writing process for you, whether it be planning, writing, or editing?
Ghosts appear everywhere—
abandoned cemeteries with worn-out names,
haunting the house on the corner of the street,
hospitals lingering with their cries.
One woman comes to me in the night
with her cob-webbed body and face made of dust,
like an aged ornament finally taken out
from behind a glass cabinet,
and she sits on the edge of my bed,
her bones creaking and skin cracking,
mouth stretching into a slice of skeleton teeth.
Please, she says, tell her I love her.
Her memories are cold and grey,
invading my mind like the wallowing of her soul,
and I see blank faces and hear static words,
losing grasp on the reality she once lived,
showing me only the hints of presence—
rain-damp fingers, stained smiles, clinging touches.
She leaves with a trail of bare footprints,
dissolving into ashes like the end of a fire,
once burning, once lighting the way,
and I sit in the suffocating darkness,
echoing her words over and over, as though they are my own.
A random poem that has been sitting in a file for some time.
I’m certain many writers, if not all, have experienced perfectionism.
I recently tweaked my submissions fifteen times before I was somewhat satisfied, deleting and inserting words and re-structuring sentences, but deciding that it was done came only when exhaustion crept in. You know the feeling: you find yourself looking at the screen for so long that you don’t realise five hours have passed. You’re somehow too tired to move yet agitated enough to pace. You might even pray that the abyss you’re staring into sucks you in like a black hole.
However, sometimes wisdom comes along and tells you you’re not alone. I came across the article “How to Defeat Your Perfectionism in Writing” by Ruthanne Reid when scouting for advice. In short, it says you need to move on and accept that, while nothing will be perfect, you did your best. I’ve told myself that for as long as I can remember, but, of course, when someone else says it you start to believe it.
Things I’ve taken upon myself to help enforce that belief include new and existing things.
I now use deadlines after never doing so before, giving me a stronger confidence with stopping editing before it becomes excessive and taxing. I’ll take a break when things get intense, showering or napping, binging Netflix or sticking my head outside for fresh air. I try to recognise growth within my style or method or process, seeing it as evolving instead of changing or failing.
Most of all, I remember why I became a writer.
There’s no doubt perfectionism will always be lurking in the background, but it’s wrong if it thinks it will win every time.