It's an interesting time for me as a poet. I wrote so much the past few months, I find myself unable to write anything right now. Not that it's so bad. I believe the poems need time to sit, percolate, and bubble up like sourdough starter. I'm not sitting idle, by any means. I'm revising an earlier batch of poems, round three, so to speak, of revisions. I revise numerous times, then put them away for a while before taking them out to revise again. This makes me happier that assigning a set number to my revisions. Lather, rinse, repeat has worked well for me in the past.
By trial and error I've found I need to revise my poems until I can't stand to look at the poem any more, then I tuck it away. A cold, critical eye is able to handle the process of revision much more adeptly than a warm, fuzzy one. I find the same to be true of my stories. I haven't touched The Fantasy Novel in months, and when I pulled it out to look at it, my eye went unerringly to clunky phrasings and extraneous information.
It's hard, given the present day culture of produce—hurry, hurry, hurry—and produce more, to repeat the careful and concise steps of revision and more importantly, letting a work lie fallow. We want the work out there, garnering praise, or at least a response, justifying our existence as poet and writer. Have you ever let something go out the door that wasn't quite the way you wanted it, but your neediness got in the way of what was right for the work? I have. It's hard to admit I don't always take the care I should with a piece because I want to get it 'out there'.
I've tried to remedy that the past few months by the radical idea of taking my time. My Time. Not someone else's notion of where and when I should be as a writer, but what my instincts tell me are best for me and a particular piece of work. I'm not sure it's a product of growing older, the influence of the impatience of youth on our culture, or the pull of the moon, so it's been hard to resist the lure of shoving my work out there willy-nilly. I know that inside, I'm really more tortoise than hare, but I've let myself get sucked into the notion that quantity was more important than quality. Now is a good time to declare, I move at my own pace, produce in my own good time. Poetry is not a race to be won, but a trip to be savored. Besides, I've never been good at racing - too many birds to look at on the track.
Have you run into this problem of wanting to meet Other People's Expectations? If so, how did you overcome the urge to do what everyone else wanted you to do? Or did you? Just wondering.