How I Write a Poem Step 4: Letting Go

not finished, but ready

I’ve heard plenty of writers speak on the idea that they don’t “finish” the thing they are writing. Rather, they reach a point where they have to put it out to their audience. Whether that point is determined by a deadline in a contract or a feeling that the piece has reached a status of “good enough,” writers could still go on and on, making changes, perfecting details, rereading and rereading and rereading to ensure that everything is as good as it could possibly be.

I understand this sentiment. Counterintuitively, I find it really easy to post work that I didn’t spend much time on. If I can write it all in one go and edit it in 10 minutes or so, I can let it go out into the world without overthinking all of its elements. However, there is a threshold of time (and I’ve yet to determine exactly where it lies) that, once crossed, will cause me to labor on and on endlessly, making tiny changes, proofreading even though I have not found errors in the last several goes.

When that happens, I have the choice to either continue to pick apart the poem or to recognize the cycle that I have fallen into and just release the poem at its current state, no matter how unfinished it feels. I have enough experience at this point to be able to usually recognize whether my gut feeling of a poem being unfinished comes from a desire to “make it perfect” or whether the poem simply is not good enough to be on my blog or Instagram.

It’s a tough balance trying to get things to be up to my standards in order to deliver writing that has a consistent quality and not letting my perfectionistic tendencies win over. I don’t always get it right, but I am doing my best.

All of that is to say that the poem below, the one that I have shown to you at various stages is not finished, but it is now ready.

A cream-colored mind,
thick and languid
in desperate need of some
deep and gritty caffeine
in order to jazz, to liven.
Perhaps that jolt is all that will be needed
to fill the brain with wondrous things
never before contained.

Maybe that will be a buzz
that will can awaken the a kaleidoscopic,
psychotropic colors and patterns
to cut through the pervasive fog.

There is a hope for visions of
shady palm trees in hues of puce
with their giant spiky elephantine trunks,
for sights of turbulent seas of wine-colored froth
that threaten to sink rafts of marzipan
carrying tiny figurines,
for images of undulating frosty-green pines,
their needles picked up in a gust of wind
and swirling in a cloud above them.


None of those pictures come;
rather,
the mind is changed
from cream-colored
to utterly without hue.

The effort and the chemical stimulant
took everything.


It doesn’t matter.
It was a preposterous, frivolous goal anyway.

Key:
wine-colored and with a strikethrough = removed from a previous “draft”
blue, unitalicized, and underlined = added since a previous “draft”
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If you want to read the previous versions of this poem, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3 of the writing process. Tomorrow, I will be posting the version of this poem with a title and without any of the visible editing. When that goes up, I will post it here.

Thank you for your patience with this process. It took much longer than I expected, but taking a long time on a work from start to finish is itself a part of my writing experience.

Have a great week! Peace out!

-Joy

Photo by Maria Isabella Bernotti from Pexels

8 thoughts on “How I Write a Poem Step 4: Letting Go”

    1. Thank you. I went into the series hoping it would be more helpful, but it ended up being more of look at when my writing doesn’t come easily.

      Like

  1. This always made me wonder if the poem writes us or do we write the poem?

    I believe the words choose us. Sometimes they come all at once.. and sometimes they pick on us lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think sometimes the poem writes itself and other times we write the poem. I think this one was an example of me writing the poem, but I’ve definitely had experiences writing that feel like the words are flowing through me rather than from me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesomeness!

        I felt like I was going crazy once because words just kept coming to me. It was a really awesome experience but I had no idea where they were coming from.

        Liked by 1 person

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