Thursday, June 30, 2011

Work in Progress: I Have Nothing to Say

Rather, I have only a few short things to say:

I’m surprised to feel resistant to revising some first drafts that I wrote way back in the spring. It’s not that I feel they’re finished—oh, haha, so very, very far from that—but I think that I’ve become slightly addicted to the thrill of the first draft, the excitement of discovering what happens next, of watching the story unfold under your hand. In revision, there’s a little excitement as the story shifts and changes, but basically I know what happens. Does this mean I’m bored? Does this mean the story is boring? No wonder revision isn’t so fun when these are the questions spinning in my head.

I still love what one of my favorite writing teachers, Richard Bausch, used to say: “Write until something surprises you.” Lucky for me I don’t have to pay him a royalty every time I say that in a class!

I wrote by hand the other day, and it was interesting how much less I worried about which word was exactly right; it just seemed more urgent to get down any word at all before my hand started to cramp up. Writing on the computer is often start-and-stop, whereas writing by hand felt like an uninterrupted flow.

Just when I think that maybe I should save time and $$ by giving up The New Yorker, I read two amazing pieces: Alice Munro’s short story “Gravel” and Aleksander Hemon’s essay “The Aquarium.” Interestingly, neither is one of my favorite writers (in fact, I may actively be irritated by one of these two), though I guiltily believe that I should like their work. It’s always nice to have one’s eyes opened.  The Alice Munro story is online, but the Hemon essay is not.
Does anyone else get sad when replacing and updating an address book? (Does anyone besides me even continue to use a hand-written address book?)

The lesson for the day is JUST BEGIN. When I sat down to write this blog post, I thought I had nothing to say, and in the act of forcing myself to begin, I found something. It may not be much, but “not much” will always trump “nothing”!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.