The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Thesis Blues pt.5

with one comment

A writer friend of mine mentioned some advise a few years ago that has been indisposable to me of late. He said that when you need to knock off from writing, leave at a point where you have an unsolved problem in the writing. I’ve forced myself to do that for the past two weeks, and it has helped quite a bit. It’s played out like this: I’ve been moving all the biographical information about Jim to the front of my story for right now. I’m focusing only on his life, and am going to split it up and parcel it out in different ways later on. But there’s a lot of stuff there, some of which I haven’t written yet and some of which takes a long time to write. So I’ve been writing chunks at a time, and then leaving off with the first few sentences of the next section I want to write. In between, I keep thinking about what I want and need to say about the next section, and as soon as I sit down and start back at it, I’m already in the zone and getting the problem solved. It helps me think ahead and weigh different options before I attempt to write something.

I really nailed it today. I spent over two hours hacking out and polishing two critical sections about Jim’s life away from campus when we first became friends. I had already researched stuff (the census bureau info and corn detasseling stuff I mentioned in entry 4), and just worked to sew it in as seamlessly as possible. It felt like I was working mostly by intuition, and that’s always a good sign when I’m writing. Then, since I was in the zone, I started to hack out a digression based on my own opinions and experiences as a teacher. It’s unpolished, but it gives me some things to think about before I sit down next time. I’m also going to listen again to my interview with Jim about the time he spent in Atlanta before I sit down to write about that later this week.

So if you’re keeping a scorecard of all this at home, this story features significant statistical research and background interviews, sections that are definitely memoir, several editorial digressions, and an ongoing biography amongst other things. This is good. Am I fucking nuts? No. I picked this story because it would force me to write a mixed-genre piece that would present numerous problems to any writer. Solving those problems in the writing process is going to make me a better writer.


Written by seeker70

December 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Keep up the steam…your getting through this and it sounds like you are making real progress. You might want to consider this: Stop killing your brain cells!!!!

    Lakeside Ink

    December 16, 2008 at 5:13 pm

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