Adjustment, page 13

Here’s another one from my blackout poem experiment using a book as source material rather than a newspaper or magazine.

One of the toughest things for me to overcome has been re-reading the pages for the story as I’m working on them. I’ve found that the poems make themselves clear more easily if I’m looking for words rather than the context of the overall page or article. Trying to find that first word or phrase and then the next one that connects – that’s the fun part and it brings a degree of clarity. Re-reading just muddies the waters.

adjustment - page one | blackout poem and book |

adjustment, page 1

So this should be an interesting project…

Somewhere in 2019, I picked up Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk and decided to give it a try. It might have even been in the 50-cent bin or it might have been discounted down to a couple bucks – either way, I didn’t pay full price.

I really liked Fight Club and Survivor, thought Diary was pretty good too, and then wandered away from his catalog. And so here I was several years later thinking I ought to check in and see what he’s up to these days.

Maybe someone out there likes this book, but I didn’t. In fact, the only reasons I kept reading until the end was that: 1) some hope there’d be some big twist at the end that would redeem everything that came before it, and 2) to see just how bad it’d get. At some point, it turned into a re-watch of Showgirls. There’s confusion, shock, horror, humor, and then just sadness for everyone involved. I’d throw shame in there, but since I’m publishing this on the internet, I guess that one can be safely scratched off the list.

Anyways… I was looking to create a new blackout poem for Word Wednesday and realized I’d neglected to buy a newspaper. Being January and snowing, I started looking around the house for something to use. Then it came to me in one big, beautiful, vandalistic thought – I’m totally going to ruin Adjustment Day. Well, maybe not ruin it since Chuck seemed to do a fair job of that in the first place, but at least cross a bunch of stuff out.

So my idea is this… I’m going to take the 316 pages of this novel and try to turn them into 100 some odd poems (depending on blank pages). Only one side of the page can really be used because the permanent marker seeps through, but I’m thinking of some other ways I can work the backs of pages too. At the very least, I’ll get back my investment in paper, right?

So here it is, page one. Enjoy.

Optimistic, Though Threats Lingers

Fresh off the presses, or should I say, permanent marker.

I’m still working the kinks out of my morning creative routine, trying to find something that feels natural, feeds my creativity, is easily repeatable, and is something I actually want to do. Maybe a daily blackout poem would be a good addition to the mix?

As usual, thanks to Austin Kleon for the intro to this particularly type of poetry.

Enduring the Edit

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”Don Roff

The best thing about having two writing projects going at the same time is there’s always something to work on. Get stuck on this one, move to the other, and then vice versa. The worst part about having two writing projects going at the same time is that if you’re timing is off, you can wind up in the edit phase with both of them at the same time.

That’s where I am now.

The first project, a screenplay, was sent out for feedback awhile ago and came back with plenty of notes (totally expected) and an encouraging pat on the back (bonus!). I rewrote the first 15 pages, sent it back for some more feedback, got more notes, and am now in the process of working a full draft. The other project is a book of poems where I’ve stopped writing new material and have been focusing on revising what’s been written to assess where I’m at in the overall scheme of things.

One of the gifts from this process has been coming face-to-face with things I’ve often said but now have to question if they’re really true. The first thing is that “I know that all my poems aren’t great and I’m willing to write through the bad ones to get to the good ones.” The second is that “Because I only write for myself, it’s okay that I don’t revise things.”

Looking at those on my screen, it’s pretty easy to see the cozy log cabin of lies and deception that I constructed for myself. I mean, inside my head or coming out of my mouth, those things sound great. But sitting there in front of me, it’s tough to not call it for what it is.

Really, it’s an excuse to not do the extra work of editing and rewriting. In fact, now that I’ve exposed my own lies for all the world (or at least the couple dozen people who might stumble on this) to see, I’ll go a step further and say that I’ve been neglecting an entire portion of the writing process itself to my own detriment as well as the work itself.

Much as discouraging people to talk politics and religion leads to people not knowing how to talk about politics and religion, not editing and rewriting means you’re absolute crap at them. Even if I am writing primarily for my own pleasure, that doesn’t mean it has to suck, right?

So here I am, enduring the edit and trying to find the joy in it.

I may need a flashlight.