Don't be chagrined that your novel,
Which yesterday seemed done at last,
Is revealed in the light of morning
To be only your latest draft.
It could mean that your vision cleared
While you were sleeping, your sense of fitness
Grows in the night like corn or bamboo.
Don't assume you're tampering with the truth
By wanting to make your hero more likable.
He can still be someone who's liable
To fritter his life away in random pastimes.
Only now, for his sake, you want to present him
As fighting a little harder against his temperament
So the reader, instead of looking down from on high,
Stands close enough to the action to sympathize.
As for your heroine, you can still depict her
As someone who hides, beneath her apparent warmth,
A seam of coldness. But now you're ready to probe
What the coldness conceals: the wound, say,
That makes trust a challenge.
Where, she wonders, will her courage come from
If she's unable to find it when she looks within?
If you consider any hope of change
To be, in the end, illusion, be true to your vision.
Just don't ignore the change in yourself,
Your willingness, say, to be more patient
Exploring alternatives. Each new effort
Could prove another chapter in a single story
Slowly unfolding in which you learn
By trial and error, what the plot requires.
In the meantime, let me assure you your heroine
In this new, more generous version,
Seems to be learning something
She'll need to learn before the climax
If real change is to be at least an option.
Let me say that your hero's remorse near the end
For his lack of enterprise and direction
Is more convincing than it's ever been.
At last, instead of giving a speech already written,
He seems to be groping for words. Not sure
What he'll say until he says it, and then
Not sure if he ought to be satisfied
Or open to one more try.
Copyright © 2012 by Carl Dennis. Used with permission of the author.