Thursday, 14 August 2008


Go to Jane Holland's Raw Light blog for an insight into her creative process, writer's block, and the safe birth of her poem 'Fifth'.

A quote from her post:
'You have to remember that I hadn’t written a poem for over three years when ‘Fifth’ suddenly came to me, out of the blue. In such reduced circumstances any poem is miraculous. So I was reluctant to mess too much with those early drafts, however pedestrian, in case I jinxed my return to poetry.'

It was Jane who wisely advised in another post that 'first drafts are not holy relics':
'They will still exist, perfectly intact, after you have rewritten the poem twenty-five times. So release your grip on the poem; let it move in whichever direction it chooses. If the redrafting process unnerves you, keep the first draft at your elbow and use it as an anchor; however ‘out there’ subsequent drafts become, your original impetus can remain steady.'


Jane Holland said...

Yes, I guess each poem is different and requires a slightly modified approach to revisions ... and sometimes confidence can play a major role in deciding which approach to take.

Writing 'Fifth', I was on my knees, creatively-speaking. I hadn't written a single line of poetry for some years, due to a complete loss of confidence in myself as a poet. These days I do indeed advocate a much looser and freer approach to revision than I could have managed during the writing and revising of this poem.

So ... good advice, but to to be taken with a pinch of salt, always!

Women Rule Writer said...

Hi Jane
The point being that what works on one poem, won't necessarily work on another, perhaps.

The loss of confidence is a terrible thing - it can really stymie everything. You feel there's no point writing because it will all be crap anyway. I hate that feeling.

BarbaraS said...

'Fifth' is one of my favourite JH poems: it sparked a poem about my twins. I have Boudica & Co, and have read it thoroughly.

It's always good to hear how hard poets work on their material as well as where their work comes from; you don't feel quite so alone.

Women Rule Writer said...

Exactly, Barbara. Though I tend to scrap / delete old drafts as new ones emerge. I'm afraid I'll get confused if there are too many versions cluttering up the place. Maybe I should keep them?

BarbaraS said...

Keep them for the future - when you're really famous and some college is looking to buy your papers ;)