Friday, December 30, 2011

The Writing Life

I’ve been working on an essay about the attempt I made trying to take care of my parents by taking them to their home of thirty three years rather than leaving them in the nursing  home. I had been working on a sci-fi short story connected to the novels I have mapped out for writing in the future, but the short story had too much depth and the characters were too complex to write all I needed to say in a short story without making the whole story seem trivial and superstitious. So I set that aside and started on the essay.

Personal experience essays, when as emotionally charged as this one is, are difficult to get down without sounding like a big whine. I’m still sorting some things out from the ordeal, but all that I need for this essay has passed. Trying to tell more would require a lot more paper. It’s not that I’m still emotionally wound up about what I consider a failed attempt to care for mom and dad (I’m not), but I am still figuring out how my story fits together to make it all seem logical.

I’m nearly done with the first draft. It’s taking a lot of mental energy working through the rough outlines and notes; adding and deleting what does and doesn’t belong in this essay gives me a headache. I keep wanting to tell other details, but that only confuses what this particular essay is about. I plan on finishing it this weekend, or by Monday at the latest.

When I write, I have to start out sitting away from the computer and writing out my notes; then, also with pencil and paper, I map out an outline. Then, still by hand, I write a rough draft. Finally, I revise it as I’m typing it on the computer, ending up with a first draft. Lately, I’ve been reworking the first draft a couple of times, then print it out and go over it again, making notes with a pencil. I repeat this a couple of times, then I get someone else to read it for clarity, flow and tone. I’m hoping that when I get this essay that far I can finalize it with the suggestions from my readers and start sending it off.

I need to get quicker, though. It takes me far too long to get something out.

So, off I go, back to work.

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