Every now and then, I take a fresh look at my work. What I'm looking for are things like, "Does my poem still measure up to my ideal?" or, "Could I have used a more perfect word or phrase there?"
I am doggedly deliberate about the words I choose, in concert with my muse. But, when I'm about to review a poem, especially an older piece that I haven't read in a while, I begin to feel apprehensive.
As with Mr. Leonard, I work hard to leave no extraneous bits in my work. Every part must be accounted for. The work must be lean, though fluid, and rigidly constructed, yet appear effortless.
Even so, I'll often second guess my ability to engage the reader, to hold their interest captive throughout, and to make as certain as I am able that the reader will find no reason to "skip" anything therein.
And, I have discovered that developing this habit of occasionally reappraising my work, regardless of how daunting it may feel, has rewarded me with insights which I might have easily missed.
I get to see from a distance how the intended mechanism of my work is functioning. The farther removed I am in time from its initial composition, the more clearly I can see what is or is not there.
I may elect to tweak the machinery a bit if needs be, or fine tune a cog here or there, but I am ever so elated if I find that my original intent has stood time well enough to pass the tests I apply to it.
I have been writing poetry for so long now, and I have gleaned much from my many mistakes. I may not be able to predict skippable parts, but perhaps due diligence can guard against them.