Last week I did a special prompt for National Women’s Day, with a deadline to have a full draft (either six hundred words or less for prose, or thirty lines or fewer for poetry) completed by yesterday, Monday the 11th. Thank you to everyone who did this with me and who submitted responses! I think it’s safe to say we all had a lot of fun with this one.
Though, admittedly, I didn’t do very well at this. I started my draft Sunday night, but stopped about halfway through. I didn’t return to it until Tuesday (today) morning, definitely missing my self-set deadline.
That’s the hard thing about setting your own deadlines, where only you are responsible for and to yourself. It’s really easy to not hold yourself accountable and instead do anything else; in my case, a local trivia night that ran from seven o’clock until nine thirty, and catching up on Crashing and Bob’s Burgers.
So I didn’t make my deadline. But I did start the draft, which makes it the third draft I’ve started this month. That alone is a huge feat for me, when I maybe get 1/3 of a single draft out every three months or so. So, thus far, I have two full drafts in some form of “done,” and one half-draft from this prompt. Laying it out like that kinda blows my mind. (I’m sure there’s plenty of you going, Hah! This girl thinks 2.5 poems is substantial. But, really, it is for me, especially in the span of a single month.
After I returned to this draft this morning (which still sits unfinished), I actually ended up scraping about half of what I’d written on Sunday. Still, I have twenty lines currently (and long ones at that!), so I’m not falling too short of my thirty-line limit. I’m also pretty excited about what I do have. It’s shaping up to be a poem that very naturally fits with my larger body of work, but revolving around a character/topic I’ve never even thought to write about before, which has given me some ideas for a larger project. That’s partly why it’s still unfinished; the ending is giving me a headache (the way endings like to do), and, as I do with most things, I want to get it as right as possible the first time around.
This, I’m aware, kind of defeats what I’m trying to do with these prompts. And I’ll never forget hearing Salman Rushdie give a talk a couple years ago and saying, “Just get to the end.” (This speaking event was one of the weirdest of my literary experience thus far, and is a tale for another post on a different day, but this takeaway was something I particularly valued.)
I’m not sure if I’m explaining it correctly when I say that this poem doesn’t feel like it was born from a prompt, but rather just from the music that was already in me, and I want to give it a good first ending that I maybe wouldn’t if I were just trying to finish a draft for the sake of a prompt and a deadline. So I think that’s okay. I promise to come up with an ending before I start my next draft, at least.