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Learning my Writing Process

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?

(Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash)

2 thoughts on “Learning my Writing Process”

  1. Nothing I write is ever a final draft. Even after I publish, if I can change it to something I like better, then it will be changed. If I re-read it, find I don’t like it after all and can’t change it, then it burns a painful hole in my psyche until something more pressing and painful comes along. So, in a sense, none of my ink is wasted because there is never a final draft; and in another, it’s all a waste, because nothing is ever good enough, and almost nobody reads it anyway.

    Shit, now I’m really depressed.

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