I am now half way through my Writer's Workshop class. I find as we progress from week to week and assignment to assignment, I discover something different about the writing process. The initial weeks were about trying to capture the techniques of the sample piece. I found that my efforts were the equivalent of trying to kill a fly with a sledge hammer. I would have so much to say and try to fit it all into the two page limit. I would slam the reader over the head with words and language to the point that it overwhelmed them.
It is a careful and precise balance to write enough. Enough that the idea is conveyed to the reader, but not so much that you do all the work for the reader. The reader has to be allowed to engage their own mind and imagination. What I have found, and what I am now striving towards is how to write less. That sounds very simple, but is actually a complex challenge. I am learning to write less, but still enjoy the creativity of the writing process. My task is to balance the fulfillment of the techniques, write just enough, and yet still feel passion for what I write. I have a feeling this will be something of a lifelong process to balance.
This week we do not have a new assignment. Instead we have the option to either re-do an assignment (start fresh from square one, try again to achieve the techniques in the assignment piece) or we can revise an old piece. I chose to revise an old piece. I felt that I could use what I have learned to attack something I felt that I did not fully achieve.
Not only am I curious what my colleagues in the class will think of this revision (whether I achieved the goals above or not), but I am also curious about their own revisions. What they chose to do. We are all growing as writers together. It is very enjoyable to see the progress from week to week. I feel as though we are moving forward together.
I chose to revise the piece from week two. It was the example piece "Poem to Some of My Recent Purchases by Dorothy Barresi (which can be read here). My goals for this revision were: be less verbose, use shorter sentences to create energy, and play with format. You can see the original piece here: Writer's Studio Assignment.
Here is my revised work:
I am a moth to a flame.
Your pull has a power like
clutching a freshly printed work,
I sigh in relief
breathing in the smell of new book.
Fiction. Drama. Romance. Science Fiction.
Invisible Cities, Orphan Train, Mr. Mani, Under the Tuscan Sun,
Splendid, Keeper of the Heart, August: Osage County, Dune.
They whisper insidious promises,
“you don't have to be alone”
I need you
because of the
mundane everyday muck.
the 59% chance of rain that
makes me melt. the 83% average humidity
that makes my hair stand on end.
dwindling daylight in ever shorter days.
and no roses or rainbows, ever.
Non-Fiction. Religion. Poetry. Language.
Ignore Everybody, Leadership & Self Deception,
Italiano: Pronti, Via! Le Nouveau Sans Frontiers,
The Aura of Shabbat, How to Keep Kosher, and
that Siddur I picked up in Greece that I can't even read.
Any last topic,
every last genre,
I read them all,
I need them all,
but never Politics.
never Current Events.
I avoid Politics like the Plague.
considering the latest outbreak
Unseen Magazine, Gratitude, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Calvino, Chaucer, Keets, Brown
Dead Man's Cell Phone, An Exaltation of Larks, The Seagull.
Encyclopedia of business acumen.
2,153 pages: my father
read it and out negotiate anyone for anything.
cookbook with no recipes: my mother
no Suzzie Homemaker or Martha Stewart
she stumbles her way into pure perfection,
both in the kitchen and her life.
a conundrum of a mystery novel: my brother
the plot line wrapped in fog and tinged with sports metaphors.
my heart beats a little bit
Discovering a new book.
It catches my eye.
reels me in.
the elegant design of the cover,
a witty synopsis,
and the way the typeface
sprawls across the page
I cannot rest until
you are home with me.
discovering a new book,
purchasing a new book
is almost more enjoyable
than reading it
If I don't have books,
how will I live?
how can I dream?
Deep in the Russian Night, The People of Forever are not Afraid,
The Year of Living Biblically, Dual Secrets, Humans of New York,
and that one that inexplicably glows in the dark
How can I breathe
when it seems
the walls are
If I buy enough books
hold up the walls
and distract me from the growing darkness.
I hold on tightly
and breathe a bit more easily.