Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Writing and Failure

Because our thoughts are not merely transferred from our heads to the paper (or screen) and because we can never simply be both the writer and the audience at the very same time, writing is a 'process'. Writing is not a progressive process, with identifable and codifiable steps, but rather a process in which we have to repeatedly encounter our own failures to say what we want to say. This recognition of failure is sometimes called the revising or editing stage, where audience becomes primary. We have to be honest with ourselves when we read-over our work as an audience, confronting our short-comings the first go around. In order to write, then, and why it's so painful, is that we have to spend an enormous amount of time confronting our failure to say what we thought we were saying. We have to confront the difference between our enthusiastic desire to get something out and the unfortunate truth that in our frenzy of thought, the words do not have the same intensity and effect we desire on those encountering our text. Sometimes when I write initially it's as if I'm stammering.  My first attempt is the print equivalent of stuttering or stammering (is that any better than the sentence I crossed out?). Often, I can surprise myself writing this way. A certain cadence created by a flow of words, usually just a sentence or two, may impact me (as a reader) more than I thought it would.  A certain combination of words may hit myself in the role of the reader more than I anticipated.  (Better, still not there). 

I should re-write this paragraph. I'm sure that my initial drive to put these words on the page skewed my sense of effective communication. But I won't. I'll leave it here unfinished. Another failure I am unable to confront as an honest receptor. 

Of course, I've only marked some of my changes. I've backspaced quite a few times in each of the sentences above while typing, no matter how unfinished and awkward they may read, realizing that a word here or there is better replaced. 

To conjure a world out of words is a most difficult activity. . .

1 comment: