Haibun, “Pride Before Fall” – writing process

 

Three drafts of a haibun, for those of you who like to analyze writing to pieces. If that sounds awful to you, just read the last one (in bold), since it’s the final draft.

 


First draft: stream of consciousness. Passionate, but lacking cohesion. Doesn’t really make sense here and there. Many repeated words.

 

I drive through a frosted urban landscape. A sudden cold has passed through in the night. The grass is fuzzed white with frost.

It’s the tail end of the changing colors. The more vibrant trees, shocked, have dropped their leaves on the sidewalk. Heaps of vibrant color piled under the trees. No one yet has walked through them and disturbed the perfection of their distribution. The leaves coat the sidewalk an inch thick, pour over the curb and into the street, forming a perfect ombre circle underneath each tree. Only the most vibrant trees, the ones with the most to lose, have collapsed this way. As I drive by, they are still raining steady drops of color.

A death so graceful and extravagant, it looks like a wedding.

 

 


Second draft: the first draft edited to death. Reordered some, added some explanatory and expository phrasing. Rewrote most repetitive usages of “tree” “leaf” and “color.” 

Turned out awfully proper, don’t you think? I actually liked it a lot. But it doesn’t read easy.

 

Early morning. A cold snap passed through in the night, leaving the grassy urban landscape fuzzed white with frost.

It’s the tail end of the changing colors. Many trees have already gone leathery, taking the chill with stodgy, taciturn dormancy, blinking against the freeze, half asleep, withdrawn. The prouder, full-feathered trees, vulnerable by virtue of their vitality, shocked by the abrupt weather change, have dropped half their heavy pride overnight. Heaps of vibrant color pile on the sidewalk under the trees in crisp lemon yellow, or blushing peachy orange. Untossed by wind, untrod by morning commuter, nothing yet has disturbed the perfection of their distribution. Leaves coat the pavement an inch thick, pour over the curb and into the street, forming perfect ombre circles. 

Even as I drive by, they still steadily rain drops of brightness.

 

a death so graceful

and extravagant, it looks 

just like a wedding.

 

 


Went to lunch, came back, rewrote from scratch. The parts that stuck in my head were the keepers. I already had lots of alternate words in my head so I didn’t have to worry so much about repeating too much. It has more passion and flow like the first draft, while also retaining some of the form and vocabulary of the second draft.

 

The trees are raining color.

A cold snap has passed through, fuzzing the grass with frost. Most of the older trees sensed the turning of the seasons, and have already gone leathery and mute; they squinted through the onslaught as the first of many, prepared for the siege of winter. The young maples and honey locusts, vivacious and blustering in ostentatious reds, yellows, and peachy oranges, have suffered a setback. They lost leaves at an astounding rate: half of their burden dropped in one night. The sidewalks underneath them are buried in brightness, inches deep. Unable to contain the bounty, it spills over the curb and onto the road.

No people have passed through. No playful wind has yet mussed the heaps. The trees drip their pride, leaves falling fast like vibrant rain.

 

a dignified death

generous, extravagant

feels like a wedding

 

 


 

Aw crap. I looked at it too long and now I don’t like this draft either. Maybe I like the second one better. I couldn’t decide and that’s why I posted them all, under the guise of a “writing process” post. Tricked you.

Well, that’s the process. Now do what I do! Go out there and write something you won’t like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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