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Polishing the Poem

Polishing the Poem

Update on the Seren placement first: week one was interesting. I drafted questions for use in a blog interview with a poet and then I spent the rest of the week reading a creative non-fiction nature book. One of the side effects of being blind is that I hear every little not-quite-right aspect, be that:

  • typos (rare because Word tends to spot those pretty efficiently if the writer has done a spelling and grammer check)
  • missing words (Word surprisingly doesn’t pick those up very often)
  • echo effect — the same word or combinations of words being used in the same sentence or nearby sentences
  • missing words
  • sentences that probably made sense in the writer’s head but leave the proof reader scratching their head as to what the writer was thinking.

Creative non-fiction was a module in the semester I’ve just completed on my MA and it was definitely the one I found hardest of all. But I have really enjoyed reading and copy editing this book ... I’m 60 percent through it ... and I must say that being a freelance copy editor really appeals to me. It might be the direction I consider as an income stream if there’s enough potential work out there.

What is copy-editing?
Copy-editing takes the raw material (the 'copy': anything from a novel to a web page) and makes it ready for publication as a book, article, website, broadcast, menu, flyer, game or even a tee-shirt.
The aim of copy-editing is to ensure that whatever appears in public is accurate, easy to follow, fit for purpose and free of error, omission, inconsistency and repetition. This process picks up embarrassing mistakes, ambiguities and anomalies, alerts the client to possible legal problems and analyses the document structure for the typesetter/designer.
(from the FAQ: What is Copy Editing? (society for editors and proofreaders)

Polishing Work

I was reminded about how hard it can be to spot where a piece of prose or a poem can be made tighter when I looked at three of my poems this morning. all three were in the Poetry 2 module assignment that I submitted two weeks ago. The deadline for the Bridport Prize closes on Friday 31 May, as best I can determine from the website ... which could probably do with a bit of copy editing:

There are

left to enter

I selected one poem that I thought had the best chance and, as I listened to it with ears that hadn’t heard it for two weeks, I realised I wasn’t happy with the title, nor with the ending of the last stanza. My most productive hours are those between the dawn chorus and breakfast. If I start thinking about what I’m writing when my alarm goes off at 6:30am, by 9am I can have made a good dent in a piece of prose or sharpened a poem to the point. Today was no exception and I sorted out the title, moved the last two lines to different places in the last stanza and made important edits to them both; I also changed one word in a first stanza it weeps.

I Spent All Morning Taking Out a Comma and All Afternoon Putting It Back
(Oscar Wilde)

So next week is my second and final week at Seren, starting with a bank holiday day off tomorrow. All I know about what lies ahead is that I’ll be writing my final dissertation in poetry (deadline 30 September) and trying to find a flat to rent in Swansea when my hall of residence room contract ends on 13 September. Future plans include finding a job in Swansea and working on a novel, which I’ll polish to within an inch of its lif ;)

#Prose #Poetry #CopyEditing #Competitions

Published inblindnesscompetitions and submissionsPoetry


  1. Loved it all. I wish I had your discipline Goodl luck in the competition.

  2. Giles Giles

    thanks, Ann 🙂 xx

  3. Nell Nell

    You wrote this, in the paragraph after the excellent poem about the time remaining to enter:

    ‘I also changed one word in a first stanza it weeps’.

    Could there be a copy error there in your blog paragraph?

  4. Giles Giles

    good spot, Nell! Yes, I inadvertenly wrote a first stanza rather than the first stanza! It is harder to spot errors in ones own writing compared to somebody else’s writing which is why, no matter how good a person is at writing, it always makes sense to have work proof read before submitting 🙂 xx

  5. Susan Susan

    You’ve been really busy, and I’ll be interested to hear your final thoughts on the Seren weeks.

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