Tuesday Tips (And Okay, a Little Horn-Tooting, Too)

Here’s a simple tip that I live by (or write by, as the case may be):

There’s usually room for improvement. (I used to say “always
room for improvement” but I’ve mellowed with age.)

And sometimes, that improvement can make all the difference. Take a poem I wrote a few years back called, “Taking Out The Trash.”

It was a good poem (she said, modestly). It won an Honorable Mention in a Bylines Poetry contest. Bylines (no longer published) would get quite a slew of entries for their contests, so I felt pretty good about that win.

Time passed, and another poetry contest came along. I pulled out “Taking Out The Trash” and figured I’d send it off. But in reading the poem, I thought the meter was not quite right. I tweaked it, changing a word here, adding a word there, improving it, see? I think it garnered another Honorable Mention.

This year, the North Carolina Poetry Society had a Humorous Verse category in their poetry contest. So back I went to “Taking Out the Trash.” But in reading the poem this time, (the meter was perfect, by the way, she said modestly) I realized that I could make the imagery a bit more vivid. I tweaked it again, trying first one word, then another, working to punch up the humor in the poem.

Did I improve it? Please see the Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Award (she said, modestly).

Every time I read through my YA manuscript, I find a spot that can be improved. Whenever I find a contest where an older work of mine will fit, I almost always find a word, a sentence, perhaps even a paragraph that needs a bit of work. To be honest, I’m usually surprised that I missed that spot, that word or sentence or paragraph the first time. But I think that’s because the harder I work at my craft, the more I improve. I’m able to recognize mistakes that I simply didn’t have the skill and experience to catch the first time, or the second time, or heck, even the 37th time around.

I’m pretty sure that “Taking Out the Trash” has seen its last contest. But then again, a year from now, I might give it another go–and improve that poem yet again.

P.S. I almost forgot my other Tip! You can win a $25.00 Amazon gift card over at Diamonds and Toads, just by answering a simple question. Diamonds and Toads is a sister site to Enchanted Conversation; both sites have wonderful fairy-tale inspired poetry, stories and art. And I’m not just saying that because you’ll find my poetry and stories over there (she said, modestly).

12 thoughts on “Tuesday Tips (And Okay, a Little Horn-Tooting, Too)

  1. That is AWESOME!! Congratulations!!! And I can relate totally to your post. I think it's done, it's perfect, I send it off. A while later I look at it again, and yes, there's a word that doesn't "sing" or the pacing needs just this tweak. And always, I am surprised I didn't see it before. I am learning to let my work sit for this very reason. But enough about me, congratulations – 1st Prize Fabulous!

  2. You go girl! So when do we get to read this award winning poem on trash?????? Thanks for the tip on Diamonds and Toads as well.

  3. Melissa, that's it EXACTLY! And sometimes, I'll send something out and wake up in the middle night, thinking of the coulda's and shoulda's.Such is writing, huh? :-)Gail and Madeline, I think I can post it after the Awards ceremony this month…I was invited to read my poem but I have a wedding that weekend. Um, not MY wedding. Another wedding. :-)And Lisa, I'm sure I drive critique partners nuts with all my rewriting. πŸ˜‰

  4. Yay!! First place! Congratulations! I can't wait to read it. Be sure to give a little toot (you know what I mean) when it comes out.As for that YA, stop reading it already and send it out! πŸ™‚

  5. Congratulations, Cathy — first place award winner (but we knew that all along!). We all want to read it. Excellent advice too and I'm looking forward to going to Diamonds and Toads when I get off work. Good job.

  6. Found your 1st place in Light Verse. Was looking for Humor. Synonymous confusion. Mine. How right you are about revisiting prior works and to borrow your word, re-purposing them.Way to go!Cile

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