On Writing


my writing tools

I finished my MFA program officially on May 7th and I have yet to pick up the pen or fire up the ‘ol laptop and seriously get some words on the page. Yet the idea of writing has remained, persistent on the fringes of my mind waiting for me to catch up. I’ve been reading more, catching up on my classmates’ books, but even my reading has been slow. People say, Don’t be so hard on yourself, you just finished writing a book, and they are right but guilt persists, while the brain feels tapped dry. When I try to think of something to write, nothing comes to mind. So I tweet some random thoughts to feel like I did something and wait for a story idea to come knocking. Maybe the best way to get started is to re-work an existing essay that’s not yet ready to be published…

I was just reading “The Ghost of Cornel West” by Michael Eric Dyson (New Republic: April, 19, 2015) when the following excerpt stood out for me:

The ecstasies of the spoken word, when scholarship is at stake, leave the deep reader and the long listener hungry for more. Writing is an often-painful task that can feel like the death of one’s past. Equally discomfiting is seeing one’s present commitments to truths crumble once one begins to tap away at the keyboard or scar the page with ink. Writing demands a different sort of apprenticeship to ideas than does speaking. It beckons one to revisit over an extended, or at least delayed, period the same material and to revise what one thinks. Revision is reading again and again what one writes so that one can think again and again about what one wants to say and in turn determine if better and deeper things can be said.

After reading this paragraph, it became clear that revision, my favorite part of the writing process, is my way back in to the writing. Also, very straightforward putting one foot in front of the other, is the way to do anything. I’m looking for the sweet-painful-ecstasy that is writing.


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