Writer's Tree

As a writer with each endeavor I grow and my branches spread to encompass the world.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Work of Revision

I have discovered a new excitement and delight in the challenge of revision. I spent lots of time in my recent poetry class learning the skills of revision as it relates to my poetry and have been unable, of course, to keep myself from comparing it to the process of growth in my life. From small subtle changes that make a line a little more interesting, to the changes that completely transform it into a new and exciting piece entirely.

We sometimes look at change as scary, what if I loose who am I or change in a way that won't be so attractive to those that are comfortable with me as I am? It is possible to make change less painful. Try things in small doses, share your ideas for change with others and get feedback. Say it out loud and listen to how it sounds to you. Somethings will fit and the result will be more beautiful, others will not and we will go back to our original with a stronger believe that it is the right fit. But each time that we make a change, no matter how small, it feels very fulfilling to look at the whole anew and see that it is more beautiful than when we began.

I have included here a poem that I posted earlier and have since spent many hours revising and revising yet again. It was painful, I needed it to say just the right thing with just the right result. I believe that the end product is much better than the beginning even though it is not that different. Just like my life when I dare to make changes, I will know that I have changed and those around me will still recognize me, but will have a sense that I am somehow a little different, perhaps it will be subtle enough that they can't quite put their finger on it but they will sense that I am a little stronger, a little braver, a little more complete and, therefore, a more beautiful version of myself than I was the last time they encountered me.

Please read this and then page down and read the first version and see if you don't agree with the beauty of revision!

You Need To Tell

You stand there, small in your large frame,
your weakness giving you sympathy

He is gone, my brother, your son,
and though you stand there,
you are gone as well.

He is gone, I remind you for the third,
no fourth time, and in a moment
you have forgotten.

She is gone, my mother, your wife.
Died long ago, taking your guilt.
You stand unaccepting of your part,
unaccused of your freedom to
silently sanction my destruction.

You need to tell me how
she possessed such power.
You need to tell me why
you just stood by and watched.
Just stood by,
so tall,
so strong,
so weak.
Watched a woman with razor tongue
and clenched fists, wound
both body and spirit.

Now I stand looking at you,
loving you, hating you,
knowing, that you too are gone.

You need to tell me how
……to love
………after you are gone.

Conni Struss Johnson


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