Three days past, and the poem I started for this week’s Big Tent prompt (about feet) is now in its fourth incarnation. I started with a simple two-stanza narrative based on some quick research. Not satisfying without a second level. Thought of a way to insert a second narrative. Eh. Tried linking the two narratives through some repeated images or phrases. Better. Rewrote the sections in full sentences instead of phrases. Better. But still not the poem I want it to be.
This is the way the process often goes. From suggestion to idea to failure to reinvention. And often to failure again. Like the Beckett quote says, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” January O’Neill uses this quote as the byline of her blog, and it is one that hangs in my classroom somewhere every year. Good advice, to be sure. But when you are in the midst of the failing, it can be difficult to remember that you are learning, that each effort or each draft is teaching you something about the process that will be valuable somewhere along the line.
So, if this poem never gets finished to my satisfaction, perhaps it was meant instead to help me reflect on the struggle and to help me appreciate the times that the words come more easily. Perhaps it was a reminder that I should continue to fail again. Fail better.
(I will be posting the last version of the poem tomorrow here and linking to the Big Tent on Friday. I would love your feedback – perhaps you can help me resurrect the piece as a keeper instead of a bomb…)