It’s 11 p.m. on a Friday night. I’m at home tethered to my computer. Revising poems is no small thing. Even the smallest tweak can be maddening. You want the cadence and the sense to all coexist happily. You want to be open to suggestion and know when to drop the eraser. It’s all a fine dance really. I can only imagine the damage and obsession I could give to the poems if given a week off, my mentor’s edits and time on my hands. A friend in New York and I recently talked about how boring we are- he wanting to work every Saturday on his book, me holed up on a weekend night mired in the work.
I want to revisit the word obsession because I think this is the fuel when in manuscript mode. You kind of have to be obsessed to get the job done as it ought. I am grateful for the artists in my life who remind me of that obsession with “getting it better, getting it closer to the core” that give creedence to this path I’ve chosen. I am grateful for the non-artists who let me partake in and see the other side of the coin like a county I visit from time to time and from which I can send postcards- all hand-drawn of course.
Next Friday, I am spending a day in Yuba City, California. This town was founded by Sikhs in 1910 and though they worked the land and built a railroad, they could not own any of it. Their wives were left behind in India, only to follow 40 years later. One of my favorite fiction writers, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, got her start as a poet and wrote the two poems I will be addressing in my senior panel. I had emailed her questions about them and was delighted to find her responses in my in-box this morning. Each of the poems is written from a different perspective: one male and the other female. The investigative journalist in me wants to go do research, wants to place myself in a space of dreaming without having. And this feels close to home really. But I’m a glass half full kinda gal. A gal who sees there are stories to be told, stories that need a storyteller and I just happen to have a pen in hand.