Donald Hall said in a recent interview with The Writer magazine that most of his poems go through something like 100 drafts. He says none of his published poems have gone through less than 50… and that he revised one of his poems 400 times.
This may make artistic sense, but it hardly makes economic sense.
(To be fair, neither does writing poetry.)
Let’s be generous and say that Hall is paid at the top of the scale and gets $50 for one of his poems. Let’s also assume that he’s fast… and each draft only takes him a half-hour to revise and rewrite.
With 100 drafts, that’s a minimum of 50 hours of labor to produce one poem paying $50. That comes out to a dollar an hour – or less than one-fifth of minimum wage.