The Book in my Mind: A Poem for Writers

I’m working on a new novel right now,  and while this stage in the writing process always feels exciting and full of possibility, I also have mixed emotions when I finally begin writing a book that’s been living in my mind for months.

I think it’s because the book that I imagined all those months was so brilliant and amazing. So perfect. And when I start writing, that vision has to mend ways with the writer I am today, flaws and all.


The Book in My Mind

The book in my mind
Is in excellent taste,
Original, thoughtful
And perfectly paced.

Its language is vivid
Its theme clear and deep
Its emotions are poignant
It’ll make readers weep.

This book in my head
Is exquisite. It’s stellar.
It’ll win big awards.
It’ll be a best seller.

I just need to write it.
But that’s what gets tricky.
In my mind it was brilliant
On paper it’s…icky.

The verbs are all tired.
The nouns are all vague.
I think I’ve come down
With a writerly plague.

The book in my head
Wasn’t sickly this way.
It sparkled and glowed
Like a bright spring bouquet.

This book that I’m writing
Smells more like manure.
Where, oh where is my dream-book?
It had such allure!

But I’ll keep on writing
Though I feel like a fraud
Though my book is inelegant,
Clunky, and flawed.

Because the trouble with dream books
Is nobody can read ‘em.
And that in itself
Brings a writer some freedom.

While the book in my mind
May have had more appeal.
This book on my page
Is imperfect…and real.

(And besides, that’s what revision is for, right?!)

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  1. Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Love it! 😀

  2. Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love this!
    It’s so frustrating when I go back to read something I’d set aside to “rest”, and I realize that the characters or story I’d had in my mind was somehow diminished when it reached the virtual paper.
    Thank goodness for multiple rounds of editing lol!

    • Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      As playful as this poem is, I do think it’s a tough thing to come to terms with…that what we produce as human beings can never quite match what we aspire to create. But that’s part of the beauty of writing (or creating anything, really) I think, too. Anyway – thanks!

  3. Posted May 31, 2011 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Love it! (Even if it does smack just a wee bit of procrastination/avoidance technique, ha ha…)

    • Posted May 31, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Oohhh…you saw right through me!

      • Linda
        Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        She did get you!
        But what a fine bit of procrastination, Kate. Right on target.

        • Posted June 5, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Linda! It turned out to be the right kind of procrastination…got a lot written the following day!

  4. Posted May 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Kate,
    May I read this to our writer’s group crediting you? I think they’ll be inspired by it especially after meeting you via SKYPE. Thanks!

    • Posted June 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Of course, Sibby – I’d be honored!

  5. Posted May 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    What a fun and clever poem…and so true! Have you ever considered submitting it to the SCBWI Bulletin? So many writers would enjoy reading this! Good luck on your novel 🙂

    • Posted June 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      You know, a couple other folks suggested that, so I did send it in – thanks!

      • Posted June 8, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        Fabulous, Kate! This also speaks perfectly to what I’m feeling right now. Thank you 🙂

        (And, so glad you sent it in.)

  6. W.L. Decker
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Loved it!

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  • […] the worry that nothing we create will ever match our mental image of what we intended to create. (See my poem “The Book in My Mind” for my thoughts on this)  ART AND FEAR is a great book for getting unstuck and settling down to […]

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