On Writing: The Value of Editing

I have a confession to make. If you were to ask me my biggest flaws as a writer, I’d probably mutter an excuse about purple prose before ashamedly admitting to my greatest writing sin: I despise editing.


I never edited my first series of (unpublished) novels. I am sure that if I were to read far enough into them, they’d be riddled with plot holes and whole legions of spelling and grammar mistakes that are the hallmarks of a first draft.


I wrote those 1,076 pages – roughly 350,000 words – when I was in my early teens. It just doesn’t feel right to go back and change the words and ideas I labored so long over. There is something sacred about one’s first work, and I cannot bring myself to break the spell I cast so many years ago.


I am beginning to see the virtues of editing, particularly as I tend to discovery write my fiction. I am also starting to go back and rework some of my poems, though I still find editing a struggle.


I am on the third draft of this poem:


The Last of the Snows Came in May

it quickened my heart
to see the new buds in your garden
wither and turn their faces back
to the loamy soil that birthed them,
and whose final freezing, like the closing of a door,
had brought with it the cold breath of Chaos,
face pale and bloodless, as yours had been,
curling my shaking fingers
’round some glittering, ill-omened thing;
our promise ring.


An earlier draft is also published on this site, should you like to see the progress I’ve made. I am still working on the poem, still changing and tweaking and fiddling.


If pressed to say why editing is so difficult for me, I would explain that I get far too attached to my writing – my characters, my prose, my metaphors; everything.


To call on those who have quoted and misquoted Faulkner, I suppose I must ‘kill my darlings’ more often.


I’m off to do just that.





I come from the forest

Where dreams go to die,

And the smell of loam,
Deep and dark,


Disguises our every secret;
Where the silence,

Impenetrable as the fortress along the shore

Where impossible wishes spawn,

Swallows every sound.




Every mirror

Reflects the ghost of you,

Staring back at me through narrowed eyes,

Beseeching me to follow you down –

Wide is the road, or so it has been said –

Down into Hell,

Down into oblivion and abandon,

Down into the darkest depths

Of my heart and my soul,

Upon which the sun

Is always setting

And whose waters

I am forever failing to tread.


The glassy surface of the lake

Shows a different side of you, though,

Wide-eyed and radiant –

Exactly as you were,

When the world was young,

And so were we.


I will drown, either way;

Tis a fitting end,

Says that part of me

That burnt up, and was burnt down,

By the starlight

I found, shining, in the blinding brightness

That didn’t strike me

Until after I’d gazed into your eyes

For the last time

In a lifetime.

Another Cloudless Morn



Another cloudless morn,

The drops of dew glistening

In the pre-dawn light

Of the streetlamps standing sentinel high above us.

There is mist o’er the place

Where sand and shore are united once more,

Where blue meets gold as if for the first time;

Indeed, the sun will unfailingly rise,

Tomorrow, and very likely the day after, too,

And the dew will glisten,

And the waves will roar,

And I will be older

By far.

On Poetry

fountain pen on text sheet paper with rose



Is anything and everything,

Save for silent.


It is the silence that falls,


In the wake of your greatest defeat.

It is also the silence

That comes afterwards,

In every quiet moment thereafter.

It is especially

The hush that falls over the world

After they are done applauding

Your first and final act of greatness.


And Poetry Herself?

She is a shy and subtle muse, yes,

Beautiful enough to outshine Venus

Any night,

And you can find her in the stars,

Somewhere between

The myriad hopes and dreams of humankind,

And the spilt-milk galaxy of longing

That resides within our collective souls.


But she is never silent.

She burns, burns, burns,

Brighter than any star,

And so long as there has been life

In this lonely, sprawling universe,

She has been singing her anthem

Across the ages.


I hear her;

Can you?

Lost to Me



I know you exist,

Somewhere in the haze of my memory,

And I watch you through the thickening fog,

Swirling past the gaps borne of the years that separate us,

Gathering between me and my gallery of ghosts,

The people I left behind,

Those relationships that ended at the gallows,

And those that still haunt me.


But here’s to you, you whose name I don’t remember,

You who are lost to me,

You whom the fog has swallowed, entire,

Never to surface again

In imperfect memory;

Maybe I still dream of you;

I wouldn’t know,

For when I close my eyes to think of you,

It is just the mask of the past I see,

Lonely and completely, utterly lost to me.


Forgive me;

I have forgotten you.