Today's Draft: Giving In

I am glad to be back at my desk avec functioning computer and a stretch of kid-free time.

A little background information that influenced today's draft:  In this post, I wrote that I've been reading a book of fairy tales.  My routine has been to read one each night before sleeping, while telling myself, This story might have a poem-seed in it.  Maybe I'm superstitious, but I've found that coaching the brain (or soul?) to be open to something can sometimes prepare fertile ground for writing.  Anyway, the bottom line is that I've had witches on the brain.

Today's draft didn't come easy (mostly, I realize now, because I was fighting it every step of the way).  I used a prompt that called for  free-writing for 5 minutes, then circling every third word or phrase and using the circled words/phrases for the beginnings of a poem.  I consciously or unconsciously didn't take in the "every third word or phrase" part of the prompt, and after the free-write, busily set to work choosing words that I liked or seemed fresh or exciting.  I also took five words selected at random from a word bank (words pulled from another poet's work, this time Louise Gluck's).

In the free-write, the phrase "chances are" recurred along with the exhortations "remember" and "don't forget," but I didn't want to use these words.  I ignored them and tried time after time to draft something, failed, failed better, and failed again.  This was going nowhere.

Little voice in my head said: Use the recurring words and phrases.
(Little voice in my head right now saying: Duh!)

Once I gave in to the recurring words and phrases, the draft flowed down the page and I ended up with "Survival Guide for Chance Encounter With a Witch."  In the draft there are three characters: the witch, a captive girl reminiscent of Gretel and Rapunzel, and the "you" of the poem who encounters the witch.  As the poem braids down the page, it seems that the three characters may in fact be three strands of one character.  Another "duh!" moment here -- I drafted this in couplets, but as I write this post it's clear to me I should try tercets.

This is one of those drafts I want to hide from for a while.  It's strange and a little scary.  It feels like a secret.  I'm glad to have good po-pals that I will feel safe sharing it with, while whispering, Promise not to tell anybody?

And now, I still have a full hour before running off to preschool pick-up.  I am sorely tempted to dive into drafting again, but am sternly reminding myself that I'm working toward a goal for submissions and I need to turn my attention to that.

And let me give you a little advice from today's draft in case you should encounter a witch:

Remember, she can't see well.  Those red,
embered eyes.  Hold out a stone

for your heart and she'll pinch to see
if you're discordant enough to eat.


Gerry said...

When I was a child I somehow got hold of a book of the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales that was not bowdlerized out of all recognition. It scared the living daylights out of me. I am still scarred. Explains a lot I suppose.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, Wow, Molly! I love those first stanzas. My tales need to meet your tales soon!

Isn't it amazing how we can still fight the drafting process after all this time. Glad you worked through it to the result.

Molly said...

Gerry, yes the tales can be frightening-- some of them I won't read with the kids :). The intro to the book talks about how fairy tales have helped us (human beings) manage our universal fears, courtship anxieties, etc. Fascinating!

Sandy, thanks. I would love for our tales to meet sometime :). Yes, fighting the process... something I have learned NOT to do too many times to count. I'm sure I'll learn it again someday.

Thanks for reading!