Saturday, July 17, 2010

"I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: let the Wookie win."

(Yes, I know my title reveals the scope and breadth of my geekiness.)

Okay. I'm trying something new. I have, in my life, never written a draft. That is, I've never sat down and said, "I'm just going to write and get stuff down, and then I'll revise it into shape later." And though things I have written have undergone revision, I haven't tended to write for the intermediate stage. I write for the end-stage. That's why it takes me eight or twelve or 24 or 120 months to write a poem. I like to think of it as the coal-nugget method of composition: focus, pressure, patience, and eventually something shiny comes out.

But that's not working for this intro, because I'm too skittery in my head. I am just not very good at big-picture thinking and broad theoretical synthesis. (I sympathize with Flavia here.) I have my strengths as a writer--I'm a crack philologist, frinstance--but this is not one of them. And I'm freaking myself the hell out.

So I'm going to surrender to the thing and allow myself not to conquer it on the first outing. I'm just going to get my ideas down, and try to get them in comprehensible form. And then, I may email my Nemesis to see if he'd be willing to respond to the intro.

4 comments:

Blue Cheese said...

As a life-long-drafter (well, since grad school), I have to say that once you let go and let the writing go, good things can happen.

Let your feelings go . . .

Lisa B. said...

I appreciate your reluctance to write a draft of a paper--I'm more willing to write loose sloppy pieces that may or may not become poems, but scholarly writing? No. Also, I would congratulate you for sharing a draft with your Nemesis because that would be very, very brave.

Carry on, RG. It's inspiring.

Moria said...

the scope and breadth of my geekiness

More of this, please! I may be more Trek than Wars, but I love geeks in all forms. (My new slogan for my academic woes: 'I'd rather be in Starfleet.')

As for the coal-nugget method and writing for the end-stage: YES. Me too. That is why seminar papers are impossible. I do usually have to do a few thousand words of just scrabbling around before I know what I'm interested in, but once I know that, it's all focus and pressure and not very much patience at all.

(Thanks for these writing posts, by the way – I've been reading happily along and enjoying them.)

Flavia said...

As an endless drafter, the metaphor I always think of for my own writing is almost the opposite--though it sounds like it feels, affectively, much the same: focus, pressure, patience.

I think of as carving a statue out of a huge block of rough marble: lots of slow, ugly chipping away before getting, eventually, to the fine detail work and the high gloss.