Jul 21 2012

Revisionist Summer

I have Writer’s Block.

I know it’s a cliché, but call it whatever you want.  It applies.

I’m typically one of those writers who prefers to spit out word after word and never look back.  I kinda hate editing and revising.  I like to stir up new ideas, attack my keyboard voraciously, and then sigh with frustrated discontent when I realize that it needs – you know – more work.  I’d so much rather just write something new!  So I usually do.

A friend once called me “prolific”.  Well, not right now. 

As a teacher/writer, I generally savor the long days of summer because they mean a wealth of Writing Time that I don’t get during the school year.  Alas, this summer has been dry.  (And I can’t help but observe that Austin’s been seeing a lot of rain lately.  How obnoxiously ironic.) 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trying.  A lot.  A few weeks ago I disregarded my Friday night plans to stay in and “finish a chapter” that I’d been working on.  And I did!  I stayed in…and tried…and deleted word after stunted word.  I’ve begun countless blog posts, only to find that everything feels self-indulgent and trite.  (A lot like this, actually.)  I have plenty of maybe-good ideas, but nothing is what I want it to be.  It comes across simple and lame; disconnected and meandering.  Half-baked.

And again, that’s unusual for me.  I generally weave stories without judgment or reason.  I just GO. 

So I’ve spent the better part of my summer, instead, on the “work” part of being a writer.  (Some writers may disagree with me, arguing that editing and revision aren’t work; or that the act of creation is just as challenging.  That’s fine.  That’s fair.  Not the case for me.)

So what was I saying?  Oh yeah.  Work.  Blech.

I’ve been pouring over words that I wrote years ago, digging back into them with new eyes.  I’ve been outlining and planning.  I’ve been picking apart paragraphs, rearranging, taking stock.  I’ve written a couple query letters and researched editors.  I’ve been the businesswoman.  I’ve even dug into my true teacher-writer brain to draft a reading guide for a friend’s anthology.

I’m not sure about the cause of this Writing Desert.  Maybe it’s because I live down the street from the park and I want to play all the time.  Or my roommate and his excellent conversation skills.  Or the new boyfriend I just want to kiss every second, or the Ultimate team I captain and play for, or having cable TV again, or the new cookbook that I’ve been tabbing through page-by-page…

But here I am.  What would normally be a productive, idea-heavy, wordcounting few months for me have actually resulted in more paring down.  More revision and criticism.  More cutting, pasting, and re-working. 

Which isn’t what I’d expected, but it’s okay.  I guess.  I mean, there’s always winter break … Right?