Sunday, February 9

the most pretentious thing I've ever done

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Wanna hear a joke?

I am writing a memoir. For class. It seems absurdly out of the question to be expected to produce a memoir in a semester's amount of time as an undergraduate creative writing student who is barely twenty one and a half years old but there you have it.

We've started writing them. I spit out four pages, without really thinking or concentrating about what it was going to be "about", which was my creative writing professor's best advice.

"Let the story come to you," he said.

It seemed silly at first. In an obtuse way, it makes sense, to write the story that wants to be told thumbing around in your head, but it's never been how I do things. I always seem to have to form a plan in my head before I write something. I always need to know what direction I'm going in before I start something new. Otherwise, I end up writing 12 pages and it's only around page 11 that I figure out what I'm REALLY writing about.

In my time at the University of Montana, I've learned how to make every single word I write count. I've learned to tell a story in 50 words. I've learned to obsessively nit pick over one word for twenty minutes until I find the right one. I've learned to cut out the 'fluff'. I've also learned how to write without thought, for pages and pages and pages, without editing because my professor believed firmly in the roughness of a 'first draft'. I've learned to get everything on paper before reading something twice. I've learned to write every day.

But this class has a different approach that isn't one method or the other. It's new to me. There is less instruction and fewer guidelines than I've ever used. Even though it took a week and a half, I think I finally am latching on. I'm not producing word vomit until I figure out what I mean but I'm also not reediting the same lines over and over again. I'm, as corny as it sounds, trying to find the words within my own voice to tell whatever story is in my brain that is bursting to get out. I've heard the best writers write stories they are obsessed with and I'm trying to embody this idea that my professor is forcefully shoving down our throats.

I thought this class would be a joke but now I sort of see that if I wasn't forced to do this, I probably wouldn't do it. Ever. 

I'm trying to embrace it. Trying, trying. Come at me, stories of my life. 


Jennifer said...

I know exactly how you feel. A memoir can be such a daunting and pretentious thing. I bet yours will be awesome.

Emma Jane said...

Posts about writing are always my favorite. You will do such great things with our words. Experimenting with new ways to get those words out of your head can be so scary and so daunting but experimenting can produce some of the best stuff. :)

Tightrope to the Sun

Dillon said...