Confusion: How To Rewrite An Old Poem #Throwback Thursday

I’m throwing back to one of my earliest poems on this blog today. In 2012 I posted ‘Confusion‘ and it reached the great heights of exactly two views. That’s two views in the entire time it’s been on this site. It’s a nice reminder sometimes to go back and check the stats on those early pieces just to show myself that I have managed to build something of an audience in the last seven years.

However, after re-reading the poem I’m not entirely surprised that it didn’t do particularly well. It was very much a teen angst piece with little concern for line breaks and rhythm. So instead of simply re-blogging my old poem, I’m going to try and workshop it in this post. I’m not sure how that will turn out so you’ll have to let me know in the comments if this was a complete flop.

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First, let me say that this was when I was just starting to write poetry on a regular basis, and I thought that stream of consciousness poetry was super cool. You see all those short, rambling lines. Yeah, a lot of my poetry was like that. It’s taken a while for me to learn that sometimes smaller poems are better, and longer but fewer lines convey more.

Also. I know I wrote build instead of built. That little squiggly red line is annoying me too.

Stanza 1: Wow This Poem Makes Me Cringe!

Really this poem could have been wrapped up in the first stanza. It was about someone who I was friends with, who had admitted they’d fancied me for a while. Quite frankly, I was more concerned with my own emotions about this than his and I was callous in how I handled things. I didn’t fancy him, I did adore him as a friend because he was a fantastic friend and a perfect gentleman, but there was no spark for me. In the end I suggested we go out only to break things off two days later. I made the mistake of thinking that it was more important to have some love me that it was to wait for a relationship where I loved that other person just as much.

Anyway, beside me sharing far too much personal information, let’s move on to rewriting this poem. We’ll ignore how I start every line with a capital letter.

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The short lines were supposed to be edgy and punchy, but in reality I think they make the poem appear too broken. I was using punctuation to convey the emotion of the piece rather than the actual writing and you can see this from the start in those first six lines. Capture 4

The description also doesn’t do justice to the person it was written about. I spat out a series of statements with more focus on what would sound dramatic rather than what told the story. I was telling not showing. A rookie mistake.

The person in this poem could be anyone. Even though I was writing about a real person I didn’t bother to relate to anything that happened between us. I turned this person into a shadow without a face and put the focus entirely on myself and my own emotions. It was a selfish poem, plain and simple.

 

Stanza Two: How This Guy Stayed Friends With Me I’ll Never Know

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Apart from being full of clichés such as ‘we’re best friends’, ‘don’t say/you want more…don’t knock/on that locked door.’ This stanza also says nothing new in the poem. I quite literally repeat myself after the fourth line and it reads as lazy.

The rest of this stanza, well, I’m imagining myself in some Shakespearian style dress, hand raised to forehead, uttering my protests to the rafters above me. I’m so over dramatic in this piece that it makes me laugh as I’m going through it. Who knows what anyone else would think when reading it.

Then there’s the last seven lines. Those wonderful, angst filled, cruel as anything, seven lines. (For those of you noticing the repetition there, yes, I’m still using repetition far more than a writer should.) When I wrote this poem I should have gone back through it and asked myself on every line ‘Is this required? Does it add to the poem? Does it convey the tone I want to convey?’ The answer for the end of this stanza was no. At this time, despite being self-admittedly unfair to this guy, I was still torn by his revelation. I was working through my own emotions as well. This stanza doesn’t suggest that. It almost suggest I laughed in his face.

 

Stanza 3: Thank God. I’m Starting To Wish I Never Started This Post

last stanzaPlain and simple, this was my pathetic attempt to paint a happy face on the end of this poem. It fits with the rest of the piece because the whole poem is only a very shallow look at the emotions that lay behind why I was writing it. I was confused and worried that I was about to loose a friendship, but at the same time I was worried about not finding a boy who’d want to date me, never mind one who’d love me. This was the wonky full stop on the end of a very wonky poem. I needed to end it and end it fast and those the final three lines were as much to assuage my own guilt over the whole episode as they were to bring the poem to a close.

The New Poem: You Can’t Polish A Turd But You Can Start Over

Five years on, this is my second attempt to write a poem about my teenage emotions. Hopefully I can make it a little better than it was before. Instead of focusing on the format telling the story, I want to focus on the imagery in each stanza. This second version should pain a more human picture but I suppose I’ll leave that up to you to decided. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the brand new ‘Confusion’ below.

Confusion

You can redraft a letter, but not a conversation.

That’s why I write things down,

so I can trim the words back

and find what it is I’m trying to say exactly.

 

Some days you make my heart overflow

but you’ve never given it a reason not to.

You are kindness and compassion incarnate,

willing to walk me home drunk at two am

knowing it’s going to be a mile back to yours alone,

and you smile the whole way there.

 

I wish I could love you that much.

I wish I could paint it in overnight.

 

But instead, I ask you not to trust me with your heart.

I’m clumsy enough with just the one.

It’s been cracked more times that I can count

and I don’t think I can juggle two.

Not when I’m so likely to drop them both.

 

I will still cycle to your house in the summer.

I will share your sofa and hear the stories

of who you meet and the girls that are yet to come.

I will leave your heart for them to care for.

It doesn’t need scars from me

and you deserve more than me playing make-believe.

 

 

Shadow Dawn – Wading Through The Middle Ground

I’ve heard it said that middle of a book is the hardest bit to write and right about now, that seems pretty accurate. In fact it’s pretty flipping complicatedC40ULVCTJL

That said, I am making progress on my novel and the real reason why I haven’t been making more is because I haven’t been sitting down to write it very much. Instead I’ve gone off to watch T.V, browse the internet, play computer games or as I’m doing now, write blog posts instead.

The main problem is that I’m too distracted my new shiny ideas for stories and poems. I end up chasing those brain bubbles instead of focusing on the complicated mess that is the middle of my story and because of that, the middle hasn’t really been written yet. I have the beginning, I have the end, I just need the middle.

What’s annoying is that the middle should be really good! There are lots of conflict points that can come into play, but whenever I sit down to write it I realise that I’ve shot myself in the foot a little bit.

It took writing the first draft to realise where I wanted the plot to go. My first draft was sort of missing and middle. This means I need to go back and sort out the start, so I can then write the middle, so I can redraft the end.

Make any sense?

Hour GlassI have decided on a deadline however. I want to have the current re-draft finished by the end of October, in time for NaNoWriMo. That’s because this year I want to get stuck into Novemeber with a brand new story, one that I haven’t tried to write as a novel before. This will also give me a month away from Shadow Dawn so I can go back after November and start on the next set of edits before sending it out to readers to get some feedback.

Me being me though, means that this plan could quite easily go out of the window and never be seen again.

Redrafting has left me feeling quite good though. For example, I’ve been working on and off on chapter three for most of the day. It looks nothing like it did originally despite still having the same sequence of events taking place. It feels a lot better though. I’ve gone back through and cut out all those little bits that twinged in the back of my head and tried to write them in a different way. It sometimes took four or five goes and I had to come back over and over to some parts, but the chapter has benefited from me not going ‘oh well, that will do.’

It’s still not finished but I feel like it’s a lot closer to being finished than first thing this morning.

I’m getting there and that’s what matter.

Let me know about your writing tribulations in the comments below. Have you got your own novel that you’re working on or perhaps it’s a piece of poetry of flash fiction that you keep coming back to over and over again. Is it the beginning, middle or end that trips you up or does it all come up the same?

Until the next post!

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Tara [Shadow Dawn]

via Daily Prompt: Complicated

Just Keep Writing: Redrafting Even If It Kills Me

The last few weeks haven’t been the most productive when it comes to getting through the re-draft of Darkened Daughter/Dawn Shadows. It probably doesn’t help that I keep referring to the book as Darkened Daughter despite the fact that I changed the name to Dawn Shadows a month and a bit back. Despite all of this I feel that I might have actually turned a corner with the re-draft this weekend.

The word count is currently sat around 58,734 words with nineteen chapters written for the current redraft. The original draft was about 52,000 words and this one will be closer to 100,000 when it’s done. Weirdly, a lot of the new draft wasn’t in the first draft to begin with. Huge chunks of those first 52,000 words got cut out and a lot of fresh writing added it. However, the book has benefited from that and reading it back I feel less like I want to hurl it out of the nearest window or onto the fire.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of plot holes and bits and bobs to work out. While writing chapter eighteen I realised that between that chapter and one of the earlier ones I’d managed to loose a character. I simply left him behind at Layrowen Port and forgot that he was also meant to be going to the capital with one of the main characters… I’m now wondering if I should just write him out altogether.

Overall the quality of the book has increased hugely since I started the original draft and I’ve also got to know the characters a lot better.

I am also still working off the outline that I set myself at the start of this draft! Well sort of. For those of you who don’t know, my outline for this book was a six page document with a summary for each chapter. It was split into two columns, one for the chapter number and another for the summary, leaving plenty of space for marginalia and editing. Once I complete a chapter I then highlight the summary to show that it has been written, or as is happening more and more, cross it out to show that it has been cut.

Now I hate planning, but I have to admit that this technique is flipping useful. The space for marginalia means I could jot down ideas as the crop up and it also means I have a clear beginning-to-end plan of my novel that shows the progression of all the story lines. I can see where I need to hit key plot points or where I need to tie bit together to keep the story flowing.

What concerns me a little at the moment is that 58,000 words in, I’m only on the second page of this plan.

Well anyway, tomorrow I will hopefully hit that 60,000 word mark and being past the mid-point means I can trick myself into thinking it’s a downhill run from here. I’ve just got to keep writing and get this book finished.

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