I Am a Slow Writer

Sorry, Jeff, I’m working on the write-up on your book (coming soon).  But this brings up another thing about me.  I’m a slow writer.  With poetry I’ve gotten faster, but that’s kind of an illusion.  I’ve got two classifications of poems, majors and minors, which is different from the terms most people would think of from their literature classes.  My majors are poems for which the idea has come back not just a few times, but has lingered, occasionally for years, while I hammer away at it.  The one I’m working on now is has been in the works for about four years and has had something like three or four completely different versions written.  It takes time, energy, and preparation to work on these poems.  This isn’t to say that their long.  Length has nothing to do with it.

The minors are poems that I’ve had the idea a few times, probably have written the first few lines in my head, and that I basically work very quickly on, mostly because they end suddenly.  Like Sam when he’s finished with dinner yells “Done!” the poem comes to a screeching halt and I begin revision, which also doesn’t take too much time.  The ideas are sometimes smaller, and these poems do tend to come in under 30 lines.  Sometimes they feel like jazz improvisations where I have to be in a flow and ride the energy that comes.

With prose, it’s all a slog.  I’ve pretty much given up on fiction, mostly because I get an idea, but it takes so long for me to write, the thing rusts in my hands.  The nonfiction project I’ve been thinking/talking/working for the past decade has been brewing and simmering, and has had four separate rough drafts made.  I’m working in the fifth, which I think is actually working out better.  The themes all mesh and the narrative had kind of found its voice.  But I’m slow and 80000 words is a lot.

Needless to say, sorry, Jeff, I’m working on it.

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