26 May 2011

a scratch pad {for a poem}

Scratch pads usually come in handy for math problems. Carry the one, and do the long division, if you remember how to do that {remainders? Does anyone really remember how to do remainders?}.

But for me, the more enticing scratch pads are the ones like this, the ones where I'm scratching out my thoughts, circling around an idea, crossing out what isn't right.

In a world of computers and the delete button, there is something almost Luddite and anachronistic about writing down—with ink and all—your thoughts. About boldly declaring: this is what I think.

And then boldly scratching it out: This is not what I meant. Let me try that again.

On a computer, you can just hit that delete button and no one ever has to know. Ink bleeds with honesty, and you have to scratch hard and deep to cover up what you didn't mean to say.

This is my draft for my poem "carnival," and perhaps the scratchings and the sections written in different parts of the paper say something about my thought process or my writing process. I don't know, but I look at this and say: here is what I meant to say. All of it, the scratchings and the parts that ended up in the poem, all of it I meant to say to get what was in my head out onto something more permanent and real. To get it out in ink.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite quotes about the relationship between thinking and writing is the motto for the Field Notes website: "I'm not writing it down to remember it later; I'm writing it down to remember it now." One way of looking at writing or spoken language is it's a way to pin down the jumble of concurrent, sometimes unclear and elusive, thoughts in our heads to figure out what we actually think or feel about something. Often, we don't really know what we think or feel about something until we have to grab ahold of those animals by the tail and describe what we've caught to others and to ourselves.



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