Moving on

Hi everyone,
David from 417 Magazine
I’ve spent this week on the second draft of a book that should come out in 2018. I’m ready to send it off as soon as I finish this post. I didn’t mean to take this long but got tangled up in the first line of the third stanza of one poem. It’s a simple line that includes the word “sticks” in it. My concern was that sticks also appears in another poem in the group and I worried that the repetition might be a problem.

After fretting over it for two days, no solution came. It’s the right word in both instances. I rewrote the line, and the whole stanza, in various ways but found no fix that I thought was better. In the days before I began being published I whizzed past such situations with a shrug and hope that an editor wouldn’t notice. At some point I learned that editors do pay attention and if I see it they’re going to spot it too.

I think I can defend my decision to reinsert the original line in this case. We’ll see. I remember a time when an editor told me to stop revising and let her get on with the book. Sometimes it’s just hard to let something go. Someone help me remember who said, “Writing is never finished. It’s abandoned.” Or something close to that.


5 comments on “Moving on

  1. Paul Valery said “A poem is never finished, it’s abandoned” in French, and then John Ciardi restated it in English. A Valery specialist here at ST Andrews University showed it to me in French about five years ago. I heard Ciardi say it when I worked at the Saturday Review back in the early ’60’s.


  2. Best wishes with the manuscript, David! I know how you feel about letting lines go, and defending them when necessary. One of the suggestions Rebecca Davis made to my debut manuscript last year I didn’t really feel was necessary, so I told her why – and she agreed. The other suggestions she made were right on point, and the ms is better for it. It’s give and take…and hopefully the editor will take what you give!

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