Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Writing: A Set-up for Failure

Remember the old days? Before the internet—I used to read physical books. Now, of course, you can find it all on-line. I just watched a video this a.m. of Ta-Nehisi Coates talking about his writing process. I’ve got to admit he’s the man. If there is anything out there written by him, I read it because he’s the real deal.

He said writing is about failure.

Pretty much failure after failure, like one word after another. You write one crappy thing and then come back and fix it and then see other things that got to be fixed. Like a Whack a Mole. Writing is basically getting started and then changing it and seeing where you need research, where you need to pull it together. Relax and make mistakes.

I write about this in Freeze Frame and 365 Affirmations forthe Writer. Montaigne called his style of writing “essay,” meaning attempts. Listen, you don’t have anything to prove. Just try to write that memory from your point of view; you don’t have to have all the answers or photographic recall. It’s about reflection, revealing one facet and leaving the rest for some other time. How the new hat felt, the way your sister made you always pull the sled, that first Easter after Mom’s cancer treatments that were only meant to prolong her life 3 - 4 months, moonlight on the back patio, your first bite of key lime pie, meeting the love of your life for the very first time—and perhaps letting them go.

Try. Then try some more.

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