Guilty of Over-Revising & Halloween, the Day After

Halloween Hangover/Hangunder--

Well, I've KitKatted and Junior Minted my way through Halloween. We are taking down the decorations and I am wishing Halloween lasted more than one night.


Revision, Revised, Rewrite--

I have been working on a poem for the last 3 weeks. I have been revising it and carrying drafts around with me. Yesterday when I went to make even more revisions (the poor poem has been arranged and rearranged numerous times), I accidentially pulled up a much earlier version of the poem and I realized that my earlier draft, in fact, the one closest to the first version was so much better than what I had revised the poem into.

My revisions had basically sucked the energy, the spark from the poem.

So what did I do? I tossed the super-revised-a-thousand-times version and went back to work on draft two. The poem is now complete and better for it. I keep thinking had I not accidentially pulled up the wrong version, I would be working on a poem that wasn't as strong and believing my revisions had made it better.

I have been guilty of over-revising many times. Sometimes I think my first thought is not necessary our best thought, but can many times be closer to the source. And while mostly my poems come out ragged around the edges, the earlier drafts still carry the most energy and that "unnamed" feeling in a poem that somehow adds a little sparkle, a little something more.


  1. I love those Day-of-the-Dead dolls! I wanted to buy one when I was in Mexico over the summer, but I was too scared to haggle with the shop owner. So sad.

    Signed, a long time silent reader.

  2. Hi, I love how you are running this blog. I just started a blog of my own and I was wondering if you would like to do a link exchange with my site. My site can be found at:

    If you want to do this, just leave a comment on my site, on any post, and I’ll link you later that night.


  3. I've long felt that it's the rough edges and loose threads that allow a poem its life.

    An analogy I think of a lot, and that I've probably talked about online once or twice, is that a billiard ball is more perfectly made and more highly polished than a mountain, but no one would stand and gaze in rapture at the horizon if, instead of a mountain range, there was a row of billiard balls.

    The longer I write, the more I feel that a great deal of the knack of writing a poem is knowing when to leave off "fixing" it, when to let it sit as I've written it. Empty space (for example, the space created by putting down the pen and backing away) isn't empty, it's alive.

  4. I'm the opposite when it comes to revision. I hate it, so I'm guilty of not doing enough. And if I leave a poem too long, I'm less likely to go back to it.

    I like what Lyle says about the empty space, or distance, created by backing away from a draft.

  5. Sara,
    Thanks for saying Hi!

    Lyle, good analogy. I agree.

    January-- I sometimes return to poems *years* later because I need that much time to figure out what I was talking about! ;-)

    thanks for the comments!


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