The Speak Easy

How much revision goes into your work?


Todd Moore: Some, not much.


Misti Rainwater-Lites:
I revise as I go along. But sometimes, not often, I revise poems years later.


A.D. Winans:
Most of my poems are spontaneous and require little if any revision, but as I have grown older, I find myself going back over old poems and revising them.  It’s most dropping lines or maybe adding something, or changing line breaks, things like this.

Hosho McCreesh:
I hand-write or type the first draft; I make changes on that draft; a few days later I go back to it &, if I still like it, I re-type it into the computer…making changes or cuts as I do; I look at it one last time before I start submitting it…so what goes out is a 3rd or 4th draft, I’d say. I try not to stray too far from the original thrust though–& don’t believe in heavy re-writes after long periods of time. If the poem doesn’t get accepted somewhere–I either retire it, or scrap it–saving only the strong lines I like. I’d rather try to write the same poem 5 times then work & rework the first version into spoiled milk.

Chris Toll:
I can easily have 15 to 20 revisions. After the first 5 or 6 revisions, I’m usually just changing a line or a few words. Or I’m scrapping the whole thing and only saving a line. I’ve reached a point in my writing where my poems “talk” to me and tell me what they want. For instance, I’m working on a poem and then the poem “says,” “No, no, no! The woman has to be happy at the end.” So the woman is happy at the end.

Father Luke:
Well, that’s a good question, because you see I revise. A lot. But once I am done with it, I never look at what I wrote again. I don’t read my own stuff. Or, when I do, I cringe because I know where I would correct things, and so revise it. I was talking with chris cunningham. I’ve come to enjoy his work a great deal. chris wrote to me and told me that, yeah, once he pulls the paper out of his ‘typer that’s it. It’s a done deal.

I let it all stand, because if I were to go back and revise everything I would never write again.

People grow in their writing. Over a period of time no writer is the same as they were a year ago. At least I hope not. Maybe it would work for some, but it doesn’t for me. So, to go back and continually rework would retard that growth. Write it – work that whore as best you can – and it’s done. Simple.

Howie Good:  Generally a lot. Every once in a great while, a poem will just appear almost fully formed, but most of the time it’s fight, fight, fight to discover what I want to say and how I want to say it.

Eugenia Hepworth Petty
:  Not a lot. I am not entirely of the Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche/Ginsberg School of “first thought best thought”, but I do agree with the writer’s law of revision that states that “revision succeeds in inverse ratio to the amount of time passed since the work was written.”

Alan Catlin: Depends on the piece.  Generally, not all that much.  More now on older pieces I didn’t revise enough.

Jack Henry:  When you say revision I will assume rewrite or changing more than say 25% of a piece.  So none.  Don’t think I am bragging, I’m not that good.  But I find a poem will work or it won’t, and if it works you will see it without having to do a massive rewrite.  If you do revision greater than 25% that becomes a rewrite.  The poem is no longer the same thing.  Give it a new name, don’t call it a revision and move on.
Jennifer Blowdryer:  While I’m reading a piece out loud, I automatically fix it, then I try to cross out the words that didn’t flow, or were extra. I just know. I just had to revise something for a small writing job, and the woman was correct who asked me to make a transition work more clearly, explain something a little better. She wasn’t asking me not to be unique, crazy, or poetic, and I had no problem tinkering with this free form prose rant and sprucing it up a little.
William Taylor Jr.: From time to time little poems will pop out of me pretty much in a finished state, but usually there is a week or so of pacing about the room reading the lines out loud.
to myself and hammering away at them until they feel right.
Christopher Robin:   It depends on the poem. Some come out easy in one try; others will go through ten or twenty revisions, at least.
Bradley Mason Hamlin:  Punch it until it’s tenderized, add spice if necessary.

F.N. Wright:  Some poems take very little revision while others will go through several stages before I am satisfied with it. I could probably find something in most poems I’ve had published that I might change, add to or remove. That’s why I don’t read much of what I’ve written (including my novels) because of that fear which I think all writers and poets probably share.

One Response to “The Speak Easy”

  1. Jason Hardung Says:

    i revise as i go. sometimes i let it sit over night. but the best ones just seem to happen.

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