Draft Process: Born Fighting

53º ~ milky, gray-white overcast with a chance of storms

Today, I have Mary Biddinger to thank for my draft process.  I have begun to make my way through Mary’s new book O Holy Insurgency, which is a powder keg of what simmers beneath the surface for its questing speaker.  When I sat down this morning, I had sort of forgotten about my drafting goal and just picked up O Holy Insurgency.  It’s the kind of book that pulls you in quickly and wraps you up.  I’m only a few poems in, but when I got to “A Gauntlet,” I read “But we were born fighting.”

And zing…I thought of my new poems and how I’ve been working with the group of sisters as a plural speaker.  So, the “we” in the above line connected and a bunch of flashes connected and I knew I had to put down Mary’s book and pick up my journal.  I used her line to start a poem, although, quickly I realized, her line would become the title.

I ended up with a very solid 12 lines of the first stanza and then got mired down in the mud trying to write forward into a second stanza.  For some reason, I think that I need to describe all the kinds of fighting this group of sisters does.  The first stanza, the one that came easily, has to do with their births.  Then, I moved on to their coming of age fights and things didn’t go so well.  Right now, I can’t say if the poem will grow larger or if I will cut it down to just that first stanza, which seems to contain all of the energy.  Hard to tell.  And I think this is one of the dangers of working with a set speaker before a critical mass of drafts has developed.  Perhaps I don’t know enough about these sisters to know where the poem is going.

Also, while I’ve hinted that these new poems touch on something autobiographical, I should note that today, more than ever, I’ve seen these sisters morph into their own characters and divorce themselves from my personal story.  That makes me so happy!

Another twist is that these last two drafts have been sparked by a single word or phrase that I’ve read, which has led me to drafting.  In the past, I’ve relied on the word bank for more inspiration.  Interesting.

Posted by Sandy Longhorn


So interested in these sisters! Thanks for sharing your process.

Sandy Longhorn

Oh, Molly, I don't know. These sisters are kind of unruly. 🙂

I find the sisters intriguing, too!

Sandy Longhorn

Oh, the sisters, they are definitely tumbling, troubling, and morphing into something….something…

John Vanderslice

Yes, I understand. As a fiction writer, leaving behind the actual person for the imagined character is when things start cooking. I can easily see how that would be true in your poems as well. Of course, plenty of times there isn't an actual person at all. But that's hard for readers to understand or believe. Pet peeve.

Sandy Longhorn

Thanks for understanding, John!