I was a poet for the first ten years of my writing life. Then I started writing poems that, according to my writing group friend, made better stories than poems. And she was right. I began to write a memoir with no idea what I was doing and little confidence that I could do it. Nevertheless, I persisted. Almost ten years later (I hate to count, really) I have a memoir manuscript that I am shopping around.
[Aside: “Shopping around” is a breezy term that hardly captures a great deal of internet research and baring your writerly heart to strangers who will ghost you or—even worse—see your writerly heart and send you an exquisitely polite and well-thought-out rejection letter.]
While I endure the process of looking for an agent, I have begun another project. Beginning a prose project (a book? a series of essays? we’ll see) looks very different now than it did ten years ago. Although my early drafts are still brutally terrible and I stumble along in confusion, I now have a tiny thread of confidence. (Not a lot of confidence, let’s not be hasty.) This time I know that if I persist, I will have a piece of writing that I can show to another person.
Let me quantify that. It took me four months of researching and writing two hours a day before I showed up to my full-time job to write 10,000 words that eventually became a 3000-word essay. There are more efficient ways to write and live, but this is my way.
How much ink do you
waste use to make a shining final draft?