With apologies to the guys reading out there, most women know what the title of this post means. It’s when you clean out your dressers or your closet and find clothes that you forgot you had, clothes that got buried or pushed to the back that you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s like getting a new wardrobe without really going shopping. We are going to adapt this idea for our purposes today – we are going journal shopping.
Pull out some old journals (or, if you write exclusively on the computer, pull up some old files). Spend about fifteen minutes pulling out lines that you like and writing them on a new sheet of paper. These lines can be from any type of writing: failed poems, grocery list, journal entry, short stories, thought fragments. Since you are just pulling lines and phrases, they could even be from successful (even published!) pieces.
Try to get 10-15 phrases. Then use as many as you can to piece together a new poem.
Here are 10 lines from a shopping excursion through some failed poem drafts:
- tiny men folded into sulky carriages
- simple, uncomplicated, like a first hello
- the air tastes like soap
- twelve princesses twirling all night in secret delirium
- snowing bright flakes of fire
- sit clumsy on the couch
- goldenrod, coneflower, Queen Anne’s Lace
- ominous as earthquakes
- the twig of your body
- making the tongue dumb
And here is a new draft using some of these lines:
After years of marching the twig of your body
over coals snowing bright flakes of fire, you want
to sit clumsy on the couch, to make things simple,
uncomplicated, like a first hello. So when she leaves,
you cannot handle the thud, ominous as earthquakes,
making the tongue dumb. Let’s be clear. You don’t
expect fantasy – twelve princesses twirling all night
in secret delirium – yet you don’t want pain, the angular
discomfort of tiny men folded into sulky carriages.
You just want the ride to be easier, sparkling like a TV
commercial, so clean that even the air tastes like soap.
You cannot imagine what you have done wrong.