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  • Writer's picturePearl Lorentzen

Give your writing time

Writing and creative endeavours take time. Some projects take longer than expected. Some such as writing a novel or a poetry collection are lengthy by nature. Allotting enough time to finish a project can be a challenge. When a project spans a few weeks, months or years, the passage of time allows space for reflection and to improvement.

I have a short story, which I plan to edit once again soon. I wrote the first draft several years ago, edited and submitted it. I received a rejection letter, sent it to a writing group for critique, made changes, and submitted it again. It was a runner up for a prize, but didn't get published. I edited it again, submitted it, and collected a few rejection letters and a couple of near misses. It's time once again to dust it off and edit it.

Over the lifetime of the piece, I've grown and changed as a writer and the piece has improved with each edit. Some of which wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't sat in a drawer or on a literary journal editors desks for several months.

Other projects like the novel, I'm working on has taken over a year to write the first draft.

Last year and this year, I've also submitted longer compilations of poetry. Some of the poems are ones I'd previously submitted and others are brand new.

Each poem grows and changes each time I edit it. There are poems in the original set which I didn't include in the most recent version and others I brought in from another batch of poems.

I find it works well over the course of a month to write new pieces and edit older ones.

Below is a series of photographs which took several months. The first photo is from March 22 and the last few are from the end of May. The others were taken in between.

All the photos are of birds. They are the birds I happened to come across. Some of them I know the names of and other's I don't know, but I'm learning.

The Lesser Slave Lake region has some of the same birds, such as chickadees, that I grew up with and other's I'd never seen before, such as redpolls. While I like each of the photos individually, the combination of them as my engagement with spring migration is more interesting.

I wanted to take pictures of birds, but didn't know what I wanted to do with the photos. Over the same time period, I took journalistic photos, photos of plants, and other things which interested me. While take at the same time, those photos are not part of this collection.

There are other bird photos I took which aren't part of the collection.

The same thing can happen with a poetry collection.

Each poem on its own merits, but the poems build on each other. Finding the relationship between the poems takes time. Sometimes a poem needs to be part of a different collection or stand on its own. Taking the time, to edit, sort and work with the collection is necessary to find the right flow.

Once a collection has been sent out and rejected, the writer has four options. One submit to a different journal right away without editing. Two edit it again and submit it. Three put it in a drawer and not think about it for a while. Four (which I do not recommend) rip up the submission and possibly stop writing all together.

In general, I tend towards one or two. A rejection doesn't mean the writing isn't any good.

There are times when three makes sense, but I always keep a copy, just in case. Later, it is possible that I'll find a nugget within the writing that is useful or come up with a way to edit it which makes it better.

Redpoll March. Photo Pearl Lorentzen.
I'm not talking to you. Seagulls in April. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.
Chickadee, I saw several, but this was the first decent photo. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.

Angle A - of a bird. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.

Angle B - a bird, not sure what kind, but found the tree he or she likes. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.
Also, not sure on this one. I took many blurry pictures before this one turned out. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.

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