Sunday, 30 August 2015

Post 60: Writing is a Constant Act of Courage, and of Failing

Sometimes random traverses on the Internet can be awfully rewarding when the traverse yields something that speaks to exactly the problem that you're dealing with. And I felt that way when I stumbled on to this really short interview recording with The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of their staff writers. Several parts of the interview really resonated with me, and have stuck with me weeks after I first watched it earlier in August, so here's the blog post for it, because if it's stayed with me this long, it might be useful for you to hear his words briefly, too.

While he's describing his process and experience of creative writing, a lot of what he says really speaks to my experience of thesis and academic writing, too. Coates discusses the need for persistence in writing. He states that he believes that "writing is an act of courage—it's almost an act of physical courage." Considering how much anxiety I sometimes have when I sit in front of my computer, thinking about how much I continue to fail when I'm trying to describe the figures and images and connections that I see in my mind, but seeing how little of that fails to emerge in my writing. So I have to keep at it. This project is important to me, and bigger than me, and it deserves to be written.

Coates continues on to say: "You never really get—I never really get, to that perfect thing that was in my head, so I always consider the entire process about failure... and I really think that's the main reason why more people don't write."

Ta-Nehisi Coates screenshot from the interview segment.
He also emphasizes the importance of revision, which is a lesson that I took away from the writing program at the end of my undergrad. Writing is a lot of work. It can be really rewarding, but it is A LOT of work. I will be glad to wrap up this degree for sure. So for now, it's one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time, revising and revising and writing and writing and revising and revising. The process needs to continue.

And of course, I have the support of my supervisor and my committee member to provide helpful feedback and revision directions as needed, so I can trust that process, too.

And a lovely photo of late summer crocuses that surprised me in the field near my office on campus:

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