Editing Experiment: Street Sounds

January 9, 2010 § 20 Comments

In our poetry one-on-one, Sonya suggested I write longhand – with pen and paper! I almost choked. I remember how hard it was for me to write on the computer when I first started, and now my composing brain is completely comfortable seeing  typed words on the page. It allows me to edit and format as I create. She also gently suggested that I might be stifling my own creativity by not letting my right brain ramble freely, and that using paper – for her – was the way to do this. And in her post about revising, she discussed looking at line breaks and formatting with a fresh eye.

So I have decided to play her way and gave it a try. The work below is my first draft – the original ramble, written by pen on lined paper. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to revise and edit, and see what I end up with. I’ll share each new version here, along with the revision technique. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about the process, or to have you join me.

First Draft: Street Sounds

She’s there in her torn hose and high heels, wobbling down the chilly street; traffic slows for light and not her; no one heeds her shouts, her wildly waving arms, open mouth and no words, dark sweater, she is singing, shouting, gesturing to whom? Her fingers form the words – American sign or gibberish, I cannot say. Are these sounds she hears as she speaks in her own silence? Is she threatening herself or others? Talking back to her own head? A homeless heart survives through shared mission – violence, camaraderie, food, joined by speech, fueled by isolation.

I imagine her first home: Two caring parents, one deaf, one not, or maybe both hearing. They learn her world, her finger-speak and take care to curb their sounds so she doesn’t feel left out. Then one day her signs turn sour, she’s speaking not to them but to others not in the room. They try to force her eyes so she can read their words, but she closes them and they cannot make her hear. So she spends her days in double-bubble wrap of deafness and psychosis. A gift from the gods that protects her fantasy – with her eyes closed no one can enter. Street sounds belong only to me.


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§ 20 Responses to Editing Experiment: Street Sounds

  • […] version of Street Sounds.  For newcomers, you can follow the process and poetic changes here, here, here, and […]

  • […] is the third version, the first draft is here and the second here. Next time, I’ll hit Sonya’s 5 Strategies for Taking Your Writing […]

  • […] Editing Experiment: Street Sounds v2 2010 January 14 tags: Creative Writing, Deaf, Editing, Homeless, Poetry, Writing by Pamela Villars Thank you for waiting. I know I’m late, but I’ve been busy. This is day four of a  five day training I’m attending. But here is my assignment – version 2 of my editing experiment. […]

  • mary says:

    How can you be newly hatched?

  • Karen Humphrey says:

    You have a great blog!

  • I love the storyline. I feel both bad for her as well as slightly envious…..oh, to be able to shut out the world so completely.

    I can write either way, but I very much prefer to write with a pen and paper, then edit slightly as I type it in. This process seems to produce my best work. At least the work that I personally, like best.

  • The Atlantic did a story in 2008 on how technology has affected writers and writing as well as readers and reading. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google I found it to be more true than I wanted it to be.

    • Yes, I have read other versions of this and have experienced it. I thought it was age or laziness – I couldn’t read books anymore. So about three months ago I made a strong effort to resume, and it’s coming back. I’m able to concentrate and read books, and soak up the richness of language.

      Maybe writing longhand will have a similar impact.

  • Interesting idea PV. I have wondered a few times about writing on the computer versus pencil and paper. I will admit that I edit more as I write when I’m writing on the computer and that probably does effect the flow. I’m curious now.

  • Neil Reid says:

    There’s a genius in your voice. It comes out like words. Whittle as you will. Add or subtract, primal math won’t change a thing. Yours is the river that returns to itself, defies gravity, a bit aloof but only because you’re waiting for boats with summer sails. Someday I’ll write a poem for you. I think that’s one of my fates, but not as yet.

    I’m probably just a little drunk on late night air, nothing else. I wonder where poems come from. Or a life. (But they do seem to know your name.) (Poems I mean.)

    Well done Pamela. What you write I’ll read.

    • Neil, you are poetic all the time. I can’t wait for my poem!

      Do you write longhand?

      • Neil Reid says:

        Longhand? No, not any more (well, that’s a lie) (and I used to all the time) (and I might again, just for you), but that’s how I began, all the time – BC (before computers). There’s my poem, “In plain view” about that very thing (romantically). I’m over-doing this certainly (but I think I like it some – more of my voices get to come out and play). That last RWP challenge is still having its way with me.

        I thought of you in the store the other day, yellow notepad sheets in my hand. But I put them back. Sorry. Next time perhaps now that you’ve made it a little more personal. But I like the instant editing ability of the machine, and having an electronic dictionary is great for me. Ditto, the Thesaurus too. I’ve gotten very comfortable, more efficient this way. Speed is good for my honestly.

        But when I was in Seattle, while back, my glad ritual became early mornings to the coffee shop (not Starbucks, but a really friendly, social place) and I brought a small writing book with me for doing first drafts and ideas to follow later on. And yea, I like doing that! (But it’s still not the same “sense” physically as once it was.) The only physical part I really “like” now is when I have to write on napkins because I’ve nothing else. (I still have one right here on my desk from a month ago, even though the poem is long since done. What’s that mean?)

        But if I did it devotedly, I might feel different again.

        And you? Being a good student? Using a pen? How does that feel for you. I’d really be interested.

        A poem for you? Half and half. More later sometime. But I did steal (from myself?) what I wrote you last time, mixed it into the stew of my RWP poem, “Lilac choir” (sort of, kind of, a small reference to you in section two). But you deserve more, and now that you given permission… (or that should be in big asterisks, stars above).

        Glad you’re doing whatever you want, but missed you for that last RWP challenge – write differently, throw out you comfortable rules or usuals, make something new (maybe dangerously). Somehow it has given me permission to let loose more chance-taking than before. And it don’t want to stop! Look forward to more from you!

  • Linda says:

    Oh wow, this is already so good, I’m anxious to see how it ends up!

    Some day I’ll have to try this paper and pen jazz. It would certainly slow me down. Might be good.

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