Writing a book ain’t easy. I liken it to pressing out the last bits of creativity from a toothpaste container.
Writing Lɔgɔligi Locomotion, my first poetry book, presented numerous challenges. Though I am done with the writing process the publishing process is still something I am struggling with.
I want to use this platform as a way to talk about my experiences on the various issues I encountered to help others who are writing poetry books or thinking of getting into it.
Today I want to talk about the editing process and some of the things I used and did to help me during editing
Choose Your Weapon
As a poet I am always writing. In my early years my only option was a book but my creative process with a book is not the best as I am always changing things. A laptop or computer is not mobile to fish out my thoughts when they appear in the wild. My weapon of choice for writing poetry is a smartphone.
My first piece of arsenal for poetry was the Blackberry Curve. The qwerty keyboard device lended itself to my love relationship with words and I have all my notes till date. Though I now use an iPhone the process is pretty much the same and I prefer the iPhone because of the cloud features available for notes. Regardless of hardware loss my notes are always with me.
Choose Your Apps
Notes unfortunately is not the best place to edit ones words. As a spoken word artist the format of the words and your cadence lies within. The notes just provide the words but the pauses, punctuation and emphasis are layered in the performance and not on paper.
So while I had content, my content wasn’t formatted in a manner that read in the form it was intended.
Unfortunately poetry is not like writing fiction or non fiction. An editor may suggest a change in phrase or sentence with fiction or non fiction that works. With poetry that change may be well intended but will take away character, flow or emotion that the poet is trying to convey. The creativity is with the interior decor of the words in the room called the page. This was a process I had to be involved in. Despite the challenges it presented, it made me a better poet.
Microsoft Office 365 – Word
Microsoft Office 365 became a valuable tool on this journey. Me being able to edit on phone and computer was a blessing. (I however preferred editing on a larger screen)
Reading each poem using the Read Aloud feature helped in my re-education of punctuations. I however wish I had a Ghanaian voice.
You eventually realize that despite your best intentions as a human being, you will make errors. Reading a 100 poems back to back fishing for inconsistencies is no easy feat. I was continually amazed at the errors I had committed and worked for weeks on getting the pieces to a state that I was content with.
Dictionary.com & Rhymezone
Other apps or websites that helped with the editing process were the app Dictionary.com and the website Rhymezone.
I use Dictionary.com for spellings and synonyms. Rhymezone is for when I am looking for rhyming words. Though often I find that my knowledge on rhymes is at par with them. Rhymezone actually has an app but I have never bothered downloading it. It’s something you can however check out.
Sleep should not be underestimated in the editing process. Sometimes you are just too tired to spew out any sense. Challenging nature at this point will only puke out gibberish. When tired just rest. Creativity is like the sea. At the right moment the wave will pour out the words and phrases you seek to complete your puzzle. Without sleep however you will be unable to catch it.
Read Your Poetry to Others
Feedback should never be estimated. Continually seek people and spaces where you can share your work and receive honest thoughts on your work. The keyword is honest. Friends help but make sure the friends you share your material with get the angle you are aiming for.
I often use my wife as a litmus test as she is not an artsy person. If I read out a poem and she likes it, I know I am onto something.
Virtual open mic sessions on Clubhouse, Zoom or Facebook are great outlets to share and get discovered. I used Clubhouse a lot during the pandemic to test out my edits to see if they worked.
So these are a few of the things that helped me in the process of editing. Honesty and humility are internal battles you need to settle during this time in your writing journey.
It’s a tiring process but a rewarding one. A process that humbles you and pushes you towards the truth about your process.
Locomoting through this process definitely took me on a lɔgɔligi path. I have shared some of my experience editing. Next time I will share my cover design journey.
Keep it One Hondred!
Lɔgɔligi is a Ga term used to describe a wriggly nature, behavior or attribute