Reading and writing come hand in hand. I don’t know many readers who don’t like writing, or writers who don’t like reading. I am certainly a reader, but I hesitate to call myself a writer. I took several creative writing classes in college, and while sometimes my reviews are the only things I can complete, I write frequently.
Many writers have written about writing. Ernest Hemingway has a number of melodramatic lines, my favorite of which is his oft-quoted quip, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I am not a particularly blood-sweat-and-tears writer. I have no desire to write poetry or prose ripped from my soul; I just want to write something worth reading.
A good friend of mine from college recently started a blog I’ve really enjoyed reading, called “100,000 Words: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the novel.” She, like me, is an aspiring writer (she has more credentials than I do, though: a degree in Literature. I only pretended to be a Lit major, and instead went the social sciences route). Every writer is different, and one of my favorite things is to do is learn the quirks of each writer’s process: how they name their characters, where they start a story, whether they outline or just go with the flow. My friend Emily’s blog is tracking her own progress and process, which is both similar and different from my own.
One of the greatest struggles I face as a writer is the blank page. As many times as my professors have assigned Anne Lamott’s famous essay, “Shitty First Drafts,” I still have a hard time putting words down until I feel confident about them, and they are in a constant state of revision. I don’t do lots of drafts. This is probably why I am an incredibly unproductive writer: my work in progress has been evolving for months, and it’s still at about 1500 words, an extremely insignificant amount.
There are several other things I know about myself as a writer: I am prone to using present perfect and past perfect verb tenses. I am concise, except when I am a bit convoluted. I tend to hedge slightly, always shying away from firm declaratives. My characters are often named after saints. I’m not very good at grounding my story in its setting, but I think I am pretty great at writing dialogue. I am so afraid of telling (as opposed to showing), that I end up not writing anything at all. And my initial idea or inspiration almost never makes it to the end.
I know many readers of this blog are writers themselves, whether it is of novels, short stories, reviews or essays, both published and unpublished. What is your process? What is your style? And the essential question, that I cannot truly answer: why do you write?
– Jane Granville