September 14, 2004

Chicago Winter revised

Yesterday I finished this summer's project to revise the Chicago Winter poems. I think the result is somewhat stronger, and vastly more cohesive, than the previous version.

For reference, a PDF copy (nearly identical to the one I sent Dad and Bonzzi for review last night) is on the flash drive along with the text files.

Which brings me to an interesting point. I have long complained that, much writing as I do on a computer, I can't really compose poetry electronically. This continues to be roughly true, I think -- the spontaneity of a pen on paper, the complete lack of formatting restrictions on what I write or how I write it, and the freedom from technical details of insertion, deletion, and version control, mean that I will probably continue to write and revise poetry this way.

That said, an electronic format is vastly more convenient for storing the resulting mess of poems, revisions, words and associated dates. So after each revision, I type the changes into a copy of the previous version, give it the next available version number, and dump it on the flash drive (for portability). This also lets me do cool things, like write a few little Perl scripts that read in the text and autoformat it into Latex for printing. One more tweak, and it'll even let me keep a versioned table of contents, and will auto-assemble the entire collection.

I am still conflicted on one question, though: should I keep the paper revisions that I've written all over as a backup, or rely on the sequence of digital files to be my record of each poem's evolution?

Posted by mill1974 at September 14, 2004 2:56 PM