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Poetry Revision: Dotting Your I's and Crossing Your T's

Written by: Gail DeBole

Congratulations! You are ready to post your poem.

You dotted all of your I’s and crossed all of your t’s and now you are ready to post your poem. You have your own personal copy in case uploading it to PoetrySoup.com somehow goes awry. You post to the world successfully and feel a sense of accomplishment. The views of other poets and non-poets start adding up and you feel a sense of pride.

You discover all of your I’s have not been dotted.

You thought that the poem was complete and that’s why you felt confident enough to post it online. Did you make a mistake by posting the poem too soon? Once you post your poem, you may want to still polish your poem. Perhaps, you want to change a word, update a title, turn a phrase another way, fix a stanza’s meter or even make a combination of these changes. Instead of looking at your poem as a completely finished work of art, consider that your poem may still be evolving before your very thoughts and eyes. In fairness to your readers, just make sure you add an update date so they know that the poem has been changed from the original. So that you do not lose the view count:

  1. Update the poem offline.
  2. Delete the original poem from the Poem Text field.
  3. Copy and paste the updated poem in the Poem Text field.

Later On, You Discover All of your T’s have not been crossed.

I have actually updated poems years later. Yes, even years later. I attribute it to the concept of “Distancing.” I have been away from that particular poem and can see it in a different “light” when I read it days, months or years later. At that time, I allow myself to continue the creative process by adjusting or rewriting the poem. Why not go ahead? The only reason I can see not to do this is if the poem has actually been published in a book or magazine or if it has won or placed in a contest.

The Creative Process is just that…a process

My poems seem to exist in the following stages:

  • An idea that needs to be developed. (I record those for future development.)
  • A poem that I wrote before I discovered PoetrySoup.com. (It may need to be updated before posting.)
  • A poem that I started to write, but do not yet feel comfortable posting. (I know that the idea needs an extreme amount of development.)
  • A poem that is posted. (I never rule out that the poem may be updated in the future at least once, if not more.)

Do not restrict your creative process. Let it be the free-wheeling, ever-evolving entity it is meant to be.  That could mean allowing yourself to dot your I’s and cross your T’s in a few days…again in a few months…and even again in a few years…whenever your mind moves to the next stage regarding a particular poem. Allow your poems to breath and evolve (even after posting) until you are completely satisfied with all of the poem’s I’s and T’s.

Gail DeBole
PoetrySoup.com Premium Member