Thursday Chatter | April 16

Good dawning to thee, Friends!

Yes, I am still on the Shakespeare kick. The man is like black, he goes with everything.

How many of you out there hate editing your work? How many of you end up rewriting instead of fixing here and there? We all know it’s a necessary evil of the writing process, and even if I had an editor, I’d still prefer to use my words (and eyes and brain) to alter a story than have someone else do it for me.

As a person who dreams of publication one day (and hopes the word self does not proceed it). I know the only way I’m going to make it happen is to take the stories I’ve written and make them as close to perfect as I can manage. For some that’s sacrificing chapters and playing with the order a bit. For others, like my favorite work-in-progress “Adrift”, it means treating what I have written in the past as a wire-frame or skeleton and trying to reshape a story around it that comes from a more experienced voice and a goal-oriented structure in the story-telling.

It’s a huge pain, a timesink, a distraction from writing NEW things – but it must be done.

Sometimes I wonder about the big name authors and how perfect their work was when it first left the pen, ribbon, or cursor. Would we want to see the pile of discarded pages lying around Margaret Atwood’s feet? Would we love her any less if we saw that level of human experience on her office floor instead before it made it into her stories? Do the crumpled pages in Stephen King’s wastebasket bleed? Do Neil Gaiman’s strikes-through delete words from our dreaming?

As I was clicking through Shakespeare’s sonnets to pull some inspiration for today’s chatter, I came across an example of Shakespeare editing his work. I found a resource to his entire collected work here and I am hoping what I found is not an error of the people who compiled the site.

Sonnet 153 or (CLIII)
Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian’s this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground;
Which borrow’d from this holy fire of Love
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress’ eye Love’s brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad distemper’d guest,
But found no cure: the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire–my mistress’ eyes.

As far as sonnets go, it’s fairly straightforward – cupid fell asleep, some sworn to Diana virgin nymphs decide to do away with ardor and thought, we’ll just put this arrow out in some water. But the arrow turned the water into a hot spring. Men discover the healing properties of the springs and flock there for vigor. But water cannot heal a man who is weakened by his lover’s presence. Through her (or him) Cupid’s fire is renewed.

Now read this:

Sonnet 154 (CLIV)
The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vow’d chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm’d;
And so the general of hot desire
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarm’d.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love’s fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseased; but I, my mistress’ thrall,
Came there for cure, and this by that I prove,
Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love.

The numbering suggests that this was the second version. To me it looks like he used more poetic words, but obscured the overall meaning some. Cupid is unnamed and the Maid of Dian is expanded upon. The place lost some of it’s geographic description, but the last two lines of 154 have a much stronger impact and show that back and forth play on words Shakespeare liked to do.

So next time you have to pick apart your poem or story or essay, consider that even Shakespeare – after having writ more than 100 sonnets – still had to chuck his parchment ball into the fire and start again.

Have you ever come across an interview piece about a favorite author or filmmaker and discovered that their original story actually went a completely different way before it was offered up to the public? Tell us about them that we might better commune with the Spirit of Revision. (I almost typed Revicious – I’m keeping that one.)

What are you building for Act II? It’s due on Sunday. Be the Bard you’ve always wanted to be and #gowrite

Another brick in the steps to Bardishness – APAD. We are halfway through the month of April go be a poet now and share it with us. It’s a known fact that quoting poetry improves your posture – added benefit.

What’s that you say? You want to write 10k words or more in the month of April? And you want to do it from a virtual tent? Well go join the campers over at Camp NaNoWriMo – there are fourteen days left in their spring event. Get your words out.


About t.s.wright

Writer, reader, casual photographer, nature-lover, dog mom. I grew up in a tree, inside a book, whispering possible futures into discarded seed pods that curled up and exploded each summer. One day, they cut down my tree and I was forced to go to school while waiting for the replacement trees to grow strong enough to hold me. But while we waited, I grew too heavy and awkward to climb, so I had to get a job. I spent my days surrounded by flimsy walls covered in carpet that made boxes and people who forgot to look out windows. I worked really hard. Possibilities were replaced with formulas and exactitude. Eventually I forgot how to climb a tree...and how to smile. Then one day, a dog licked my foot excessively and I remembered smiling. That reminded me of more things that didn't cost money and couldn't be tallied in a spreadsheet - like hugs and love and being happy. So I found myself a Steve who reminded me what home was. Then we filled it and our hearts with dogs. Eventually we planted our own tree, together. Even though I'm happy right here, right now, I remembered that we all need possibilities to dream of, so I've started writing them down.
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3 Responses to Thursday Chatter | April 16

  1. One of my favorite books — of all time! — is President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman, by William Lee Miller. Within the pages of this in depth, lengthy discussion of the choices Lincoln made leading up to, and during the Civil War, are first drafts of some of his greatest speeches and letters. I found the rewrites and Lincoln’s care with them inspiring, and the revelation that William H. Seward (his opponent for the Republican nomination and future Secretary of State) was actually a regular help with edits and revisions surprising and very insightful.

    There are instances in which Lincoln would mull over a choice of phrase for days; instances where he and Seward would argue over a single word.

    Reading through the scraps of notes and formal letters written by past leaders (the John & Abigail Adams letters are just outstanding), as well as the discussion and “lost pages” of such renowned authors as Shakespeare only add heat to the fire of my desire to write. These people clearly show us emotional motivation as well as the influence of their educations (formal or otherwise), and the influence of their own eras in every word they write. The special care that was taken in bygone days to express oneself is downright enviable.

    Contemplating the impact of that special care, the deep abiding thoughtfulness required in every word, makes me despise the viciously truncated, bastardized language that most of us use today — in everyday personal interactions as well as email and social media.

    I want the ability to absorb the skills of long dead authors and statesmen! I want more examples of rewrites to be published so that we may all get the opportunity to snoop through what our favorite writers tossed into wastebaskets and secret desk drawers! In fact, I can’t think of a better way to gain a real writing education.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Weekend Wrap-up | Brigit's Flame

  3. Pingback: Weekend Wrap-Up | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

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