October 24, 2012

the worst part of writing



In a job interview the other day, I was asked what annoys me the most about writing.  (I think I had already made some punctuation lamentations, so the interviewer got specific: “Not what annoys you about other people’s writing – just the writing process itself.  What’s the worst part?”)

I started out talking about how I’m a slow writer.  Sure, there are tons of drafts and revisions, but it seems like most of the time, this has to do with finding my way out of plot snarls.  (Note: do not return to the next novel draft without a plan.)  For the most part, when a sentence finally comes out, it is more or less the way that it’s going to be – even if it takes a few iterations in the moment.  “So that’s the worst part,” I said.  I described the process of sitting in front of the computer for hours, trying to bring forth that one sentence, which isn’t just a matter of phrasing, but trying to articulate a thought that starts out as a vague intuition or a half-thought…something that won’t crystallize until the words are there.  The endless, solitary process of painstakingly feeling your way in the dark towards some kind of revelation and that aha! moment of getting it right.

“No wait,” I said.  “Actually, that’s the best part, too.”  


2 comments:

Alice Zorn said...

Like. Understand. Empathize.

saleema said...

Thanks, Alice. I know you can relate!