After much listmaking and reading and general stressing out, I wrote 1000 words of a draft yesterday. Probably bad words, possibly fictional words — I haven’t been brave enough to re-read yet — but according to my boyfriend, it looked like I was vomiting onto the computer screen. Which is okay, I suppose. They did come from within.
In our research class last week with the Program Director, Adrian, we were asked to graph our own process of completing a project. What we love, what we dread, what we spend the majority of the time doing… and then our supervisors would be given these graphs, so they can learn and respond to our strengths and weaknesses. I learnt that most of my peers writing drafts, spend too much time planning, and hate bibliographies. But looking at my own graphs, I learnt that apparently the thing I like least is ‘printing’. In other words, what I learnt from my graph (and what may be gathered by my supervisor and peers) is that what I like least is revealing my weaknesses to other people I don’t know well. Printing is definitely not the task I like least on the list — but it is one where I can blame strange technology rather than my own abilities and efforts.
What I truly like least on that list — what stresses me out more than anything else — is actually the writing itself. I’m trying really hard this year to write without editing myself, to write great quantities in search of fragments of quality. But I’m fearful of my writing being unoriginal, uninteresting, too self-important that I will lose readers and supporters with each sentence. I still have diaries and stories I wrote from when I was a child, where I am the main character and so frigging self-righteous. That’s what I’m worried about, that’s what I edit out before I even type a letter. That the details I remember, the feelings I have toward things, aren’t relatable to other people and reveal some kind of idiosyncratic truths that are still childish and inconsequential.
But isn’t self-reflection unavoidable in the form of writing I have chosen? I suppose that’s another reason I am interested in personal nonfiction — finding an adult voice and words that are somewhat eclectic and worldly. No longer fearful of grades and parents and all the things I don’t know yet.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
Creative Nonfiction, Issue 47, Winter 2013. (I know, not really a book.)
You: An Anthology of Essays Devoted to the Second Person, ed. Kim Dana Kupperman
Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction, ed. Lee Gutkind
“All in the Family”, June Cross
“It’s All in the Past”, Michael Patrick MacDonald
“You’re History”, Patricia Hampl
“Memoir Matters”, Cheryl Register
“Where Falsehoods Dissolve: Memoir as History”, Carlos Eire
“Making Memory”, Samuel G. Freedman