Whenever I find an interesting post, I press it and save it as a draft. This one caught my eye , posted January 31 by Jonathan Rees: In praise of required drafts. « More or Less Bunk.
Jonathan is talking about marking students work, their writing in particular.
I edit them the same way I edit myself. I often talk about the great pain I feel when I have to cut a great historical nugget that just doesn’t help me make my overall point. I also talk about the joys of finding the best pieces possible to make that point, even when it didn’t look that way at first.
I’m thinking about applying this to the posts I choose to write!
I know a blog is supposed to be focussed. This blog is all over the place. I’ve written about liberty, how the media speaks about drugs in crime reports, Brighton’s Catalyst Club, recipes, poetry – and most recently AdSense.
When I set up the blog all I knew was that I had to write. I had lost my motivation to write. For a writer not to write is akin to getting a ticket to an insane asylum. I hadn’t done any regular writing for three-four years. I hadn’t written any poetry.
For a person who has written all her life – since I was five years old as a matter of fact, my father writing down my stories before I could even print – to not write is the death.
The mind won’t settle. It becomes hard to focus on anything.
For those years that I wasn’t writing I was doing Sudoku. Surfing Facebook. Reading the Guardian online, in particular Cif. Anonymously pouring out in comments, my rage and indignation with the system. I had lots to say – about a lot of things. I was so angry, and so bottled up about so many things, it was difficult to clearly articulate. Anonymous Cif comments provided an outlet.
So when I started the blog here at WordPress, I just wanted some motivation to write. I didn’t really care if anybody read anything, I just wanted to write it and put it out there. And I didn’t want it to be personal. So here you have it.
I’ve put a lot of time into some of these posts. Hours. Adding pictures and messing around with the font has consumed more time that I would ever have imagined, even though I had previously run a blog-website, and had spent hours doing that; I couldn’t believe that preparing a single post for this blog could take up so much time.
I’ve enjoyed the process. I like the basic look of my blog. I’m pleased with what I’ve been writing. Yet I recognise the value in being more focussed. One of the things I told myself when I started the blog was that I would just write whatever I was inspired to write, and see what dominated.
Poetry has taken a front seat, in particular poems about the sea front almost at my doorstep here in Hove. Recipes and cooking comes in a close second – even though there are only three recipes on here, those are the posts that seem to get the most hits. That doesn’t surprise me.
So when I read that paragraph from Jonathan’s post, I had to stop and think about that in relation to what I put on the blog. Not only editing the content of the individual posts, but also editing which posts are worth keeping, indeed, even which are worth writing. After all, that’s what the editor of a newspaper or magazine does, and a blog is no different. Or is it?
Is this post worth writing? Is it worth the time you’ve spent reading it? Has it provoked you in any way to think about your writing? Does it fit with the blog’s overall image?
I don’t know. What I do know is that I probably need three or four blogs. One for poetry, one for recipes, one for rants, and one for the other stuff, like Catalyst Club. Though that’s the only post I’ve written like it!
In the past, I’ve made my money writing for magazines and radio, and the focus has always been cultural, arts and entertainment. Then one day I said I wanted to do it rather than write about it. I always felt like I was standing outside the world I wanted to be in. So I started to do it. That was around the same time I slowed down as a writer.
In the past three years that I haven’t been writing, I’ve been singing and learning more about making music than about the people who make it. Not to say I don’t find them interesting, rather that I find making the music far more satisfying than writing about it and the people who make it! But I still have to write – or I go crazy!
…and perhaps this has to stay a draft for the moment – as I am all over the place with it just like the blog, and to some it may seem I am even contradicting myself. But it’s a process, a journey, it isn’t a paid for full-colour, glossy coffee-table book. And now I’ve gotten personal – which I didn’t want to do.
But what do we do with all the homeless poems and stories, huh? All the posts written and left lurking in the posts box as drafts. What do we do with all that unpublished writing? Do we “…suffer the great pain and cut a great historical nugget that just doesn’t help us make our overall point…” and leave the words to languish?
Years ago I wrote a story – a kind of fantasy piece – about a man who followed his soul into a woman, and found himself deep inside her vagina, a miniature man walking around inside a woman’s uterus. In the end he found himself swimming in a sea of words. It’s one of a series I wrote with this man as the central character. He gets drawn into the woman’s world where he encounters fantastic, adventurous journeys.
That series sits, neglected, undeveloped. Does it have a place in the world of published literature or is just a load of bunk? Will it be found after my death? Unearthed with all my worldly possessions – the quantity of which ebbs and flows like the tide – and read in a time when the world is ready for it? Or will it vanish, never to be shared with the world? Or indeed, with any reader other than the author?
I have so much unpublished writing, I could drown in a sea of words. Perhaps that unpublished state is what contributed to my writing block.
So here it is, the most personal post I’ve written that isn’t a poem. Should I publish it or just leave it in the drafts? What do you think? Is it merely a seed, planted as a draft, meant to be refined before being published? Or does it serve a purpose in its raw state in the world of published blogs?
This is where I am in this moment.
I ponder Jonathan’s words:
I often talk about the great pain I feel when I have to cut a great historical nugget that just doesn’t help me make my overall point. I also talk about the joys of finding the best pieces possible to make that point, even when it didn’t look that way at first.
By the way, he’s a history professor – so when he talks about those ‘great historical nuggets’ I think he means history, in the academic sense of the word. But each of us as bloggers have our own history, our blogs have history, every post has history.
What I want to know, is what do you do with those great historical nuggets that you cut out?