V is for the VISAGE so irksome to a writer’s sight (or falling out of love with your manuscript)
ANNE BRADSTREET was America’s first published poet. Born in Northampton, she became part of 17th century Massachusetts aristocracy – the men in the family were state governors and founders of Harvard. Here she describes her feelings about her writing
THE AUTHOR TO HER BOOK
THOU ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain, Who after birth did’st by my side remain, Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view, Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge, Where errors were not lessened (all may judg). At thy return my blushing was not small, My rambling brat (in print) should mother call, I cast thee by as one unfit for light, Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight; Yet being mine own, at length affection would Thy blemishes amend, of so I could: I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw, And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw. I stretcht thy joynts to make thee even feet, Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet; In better dress to trim thee was my mind, But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’th’ house I find. In this array, ‘mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam, In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come; And take thy way where yet thou art not known, If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none: And for thy Mother, she alas is poor, Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.
I especially like the line
rubbing off a spot, still make a flaw
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes it is hard to know when to give up on the editing, sometimes a little distance is needed before you can decide when to leave well alone or when major surgery is required.