Tina Parker

Revising (or let it stew and whittle it down)

Date of Post: 
Saturday, November 14, 2015

After I get a block of time to sift through my notebooks and find seeds for poems, I start to draft a poem, either on paper or on the computer. I try to leave it alone for a while. When I return to it and have it typed up, I copy it and paste it below the early draft. I read it many times and begin to highlight parts I may cut. I might print it out at that point and see how it looks on the page. I let it sit some more. Then I repeat the process: read it several times, copy the draft and begin to revise on that copy. I end up with a scroll of drafts, one after the other in a Word doc.

The best part is when I do this enough and my words get stuck in my head, like when we get a song stuck in our head. But this is even better. I hear a little voice telling me what to change—this often happens when I’m not “at” the page. I’m not even at the computer. I’m out for a walk or driving to work and the little voice says, “the tense shifts. You’ll have to change the tense in that first part.” And it is magic; I receive this voice and count it as a gift. I let the poem stew and whittle it down.