When you miss the mark

Hi everyone,

David publicity photoYesterday I was reminded of how hard it is to write. I’m working on two poetry collections at once and they’re both serious approaches. Both about animals. Both have been in the works for some time.

I began work on a new subject early and pecked away at it throughout the day. Little by little it began to take shape and late in the afternoon I sat back and read it with satisfaction. It made me smile.

But it wasn’t supposed to make me smile.

Then it hit me. I’d spent the day writing a humorous poem about my subject. How did that happen after all these weeks? At some point I’d lost control and allowed the writing to take over. So now I pay the penalty. I have a poem I can’t use for the collection, I lost a day’s work, and today I get to start over.

The name of the game is Focus. An inconsistent collection isn’t appealing and no editor is going to be happy receiving it. Too often we fall in love with an idea and try to force it into the body of work because WE like it, but ignoring the need to produce a group of same-spirit poems isn’t going to produce an acceptable manuscript. Each piece has to contribute to the whole. I may include my little variant in the manuscript when I submit it, in case I’m judging too harshly, but not without an alternate that I think fits better.

If you need me today, I’ll be here in the penalty box, doing it again.



11 comments on “When you miss the mark

    • Thank you, JoAnn,
      Hard to write while kicking myself, but that’s better than writing while keeping my fingers crossed.

  1. I really needed to hear this! I have to kill a darling today because no matter how much I explained it and justified it, it just didn’t mesh with the whole. And this is after already killing another darling that REALLY didn’t belong, but at least that one fits another collection. I had considered submitting the original as an alternative but didn’t know if such things are “done”…but I see you mention that here as an option. What’s your experience with that?

    • Good morning, Renee!
      I have half a notion to spank my muse.
      I haven’t submitted alternatives often but see nothing wrong with it in cases where I think both have merit. I don’t think editors mind as long as it’s not overworked. And sometimes they like something that seemed borderline to me. Good luck with yours!

  2. An editor who critiqued my poetry ms (also about an animal!) pointed out that the tones of some of my poems don’t match…so now I know that experts do it, too, and I feel a bit better. :}

    • Oh believe me, we do! Which is why I wanted to talk about it today. It’s all part of the game of words that we all love to play.

  3. But isn’t that the joy of writing –, when something unusual or charming and funny comes when you didn’t plan it? Save it. Write something else that wil work. And enjoy the journey. (End of lecture, bc of course you do know this!). And BTW — where the hell does the punctuation mark go when there is a parenthese? Sometime in, sometimes out? So teach me. Or lecture me for not knowing at my advanced age!

    • Ha ha! Like I could lecture you, my lovely Pat. For the record, if the material within the parentheses forms a complete sentence, I punctuate within. When it’s an incomplete sentence, I punctuate outside the parenthesis. XO

      • Oh, I forgot to say thank you for reminding me that part of the fun of writing can be the occasional serendipitous discovery! May the muse smile upon you!

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