I cannot estimate how many times I have worked on a piece of writing, be it a story or poem, and after several hours, or even days, consider it a load of rubbish and binned it. Except that in this day and age the act of screwing up a piece of manuscript and throwing it into the waste basket is not how it works. Most of what I write is done on my laptop, and even if I feel that what I have written is substandard, I am loath to hit the delete key and consign it to the recycle bin. And even if I do that, there is always the chance to ‘recycle’. Everything is retrievable. Every piece of writing might have a future use, given some judicious re-writing, editing or tweaking.
There have been two instances recently when a competition or invitation to submit a specific genre of work has found me scrolling through documents searching for something I wrote previously. One was for a poetry competition which asked for poems on the theme of ‘Changing Seasons’ and I remembered having written one about February. I spent an hour or so re-working it to fit the theme and, although it did not win, it made the shortlist. So, the rule here is that nothing is wasted, and perhaps re-visiting a piece after a while with a fresh look can significantly improve the quality.
Although rather out of season, this is the poem I referred to above.
The lawn has ceased to sink beneath my boots.
Gone the winter bog, replaced by crunching blades
Of ice-white grass. I search for new born shoots
Of growth, as I set out to plot the year ahead.
Simple snowdrops carpet hidden glades,
Gracing season’s close with bright green stems
As other bulbs emerge. Tall colonnades
Of climbers, yet to flower, lead me on towards
Bedraggled heads of roses: former gems
Now bow to shears, as on I boldly go
Where none has gone for months. The emblems
Of a sylvan Summer spent are hacked away.
Those heatwave days all seem so long ago.
The corner shed in frosted isolation guards
Forgotten tools: a fork, a spade, a rusted hoe,
Which will be put to use when Spring arrives.
Heaped against the fence lie broken shards
Of pots, where beasts aplenty lie in wait,
Sheltered deep within the winding yards
Of whitened winter webs that decorate each piece.
All this work cannot be left too late,
For Spring days will be on us all too soon.
Now I merely dream and contemplate
These borders packed with every kind of bloom.