Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lazy Jane


     - Shel Silverstein

Back in the day, when I was a student of an actual learning institution and not just a graduate student at the University of Life, Denver Campus, I was a wee bit lackadaisical regarding homework.


That is a lie.

I was downright lazy about homework.

Not that I didn't do my homework. I just didn't do it until the last minute.

I would read the textbook chapters - once, go to lectures and, sometimes, take some notes, but I rarely studied for tests and when it came to term papers? I would write them the night before the due date, rarely re-reading them, never having anyone edit them, and handing them in...occasionally handwritten.

I carried a 4.0 through most of college.

In one of my English Comp classes, I wrote a 10-page term paper analyzing a 7-line Sylvia Plath poem in one night (10 pages/7 lines!) - the night before the due date - and was excused from the final having achieved a high enough grade on that paper to receive an "A" in the class without the extra test points.

What I'm really trying to say - and this is shameful, in my opinion - is that I coasted through school.

And did embarrassingly well.

I approach my blog entries the same way.

Once I have a topic and (usually) the opening sentence in my head, I sit down, type furiously for about 20 minutes, occasionally stopping to smoke half a cigarette and pace while I'm attempting to work out flow, read it over once, and then click "Publish Post" without looking back.

In the last week or so though, a central theme has been running through the various blogs I follow. One that actually came as a great surprise to me. Many of the bloggers I follow sometimes take days, weeks! to draft their entries and have several entries stored in their draft folders at any given time.


Frankly, I felt kind of bad about it...knowing how little time I spend drafting, editing, publishing.

I felt...hmmm...inferior somehow - like perhaps I didn't care as much about what I write/publish as they do. For the first time in my life, I questioned whether I should be doing this at all, whether I should consider myself a writer, whether I should start having Lex - a writer himself - edit all my entries prior to post.

Subsequently then, the opportunity to potentially write for the Zane Lamprey online magazine presented itself and I got scared. This is something I really want to do and think I would be good at but oh-my-gawd what if they think I suck and can tell I'm a slap dasher?

I sat down to put some serious work into the article yesterday afternoon. My opening sentence was a disaster so I scrapped it and sat staring at the blank page and blinking cursor for about 30 minutes. I smoked, I paced, I tugged at my hair, talked to myself. I even went so far as to lie down and close my eyes, my mind a swirl with how to make this piece come together in my head.

And then I had an epiphany.

I am a writer.

I may not edit, draft multiple times, or re-think myself over and over again, but I do care about what I produce. I do fret about quality. I do get stuck sometimes and scrap everything to start over...sometimes with a brand new topic altogether.

My process is unique to me. And that's OK.

Could I be a better writer if I followed someone else's precise, by-the-book, process? Possibly. Would I benefit from a second pair of eyes taking all that I write to task? Most probably. Am I going to do it? Naw.

Not for the blog anyway.

The article, however, is another matter.

It's almost done. The first draft is anyway. I hope to have it ready for review by, not one but, two writers I respect immensely later today. Two people who know me very well and aren't likely to scrub my personality and writing style or insinuate themselves into it.

I'll let you know how it goes and I'll most definitely let you know if it's selected for publication.


Teresa said...

I adore YOU! - Oh, and your writing!

Don't you dare change how you write. I laugh every single day when you've written something to share with us.

Franklin Taggart said...

Don't change a thing about your writing style. The hardest thing for a writer to convey in two dimensional words is the multi dimensional person that they are. You do this with your eyes closed, and not only because you type really well. If you alter your practice one whit, I'm going to get all brotherly on you. And now that I know that you got a 4.0 without trying in college, I have extraordinarily high expectations of you. Step up sistah! I love you!

zero hour said...

I have no doubt that you can do it, and it will be accepted! NO DOUBT in my mind at ALL!

Anonymous said...

Rock on, Jane. You make art your way, overanalyzing is just that. <3