I'm currently working on the revision of a book chapter that I've been asked to contribute to a new arts-based research handbook edited by Patricia Leavy. I've written chapters before, and it's always the same: arduous, terrifying, exhilarating. And the list goes on. But always #grateful for the opportunity.
Writing anything for me is difficult, because I have a really loud inner censor that screams, "That's shit!" a lot of the time as I write. That voice sometimes yells at every sentence. It even happens when I write for this blog. I've gotten better at ignoring that censor voice on here and in my creative writing. Now I wait until it's all out of me, and then I declare out loud that what I've written is shit. Some would argue that it's just as bad, but at least I'm letting the ideas flow.
In drafting this chapter, I tried to apply a similar technique: just let my thoughts on this topic come out of me, then go back and refine. I'm in the process of doing that now, already working past the agreed upon deadline that Patricia very graciously extended. When I go back and read what I wrote on all those days when I was working in the fall, I shudder at a lot of it, and start to try and pare away at the excess of words and the awkward constructions. And then every once in awhile, I happen upon a sentence that I actually like, and it feels good not to have to do anything to it. At least this time around. I enjoy the drafting process, but I find that I make lots and lots of changes every time a new draft emerges. It's probably a good thing, but also maddening in a circular sort of way.
As someone who reads a lot of student writing, I think we've got to get better as teachers at encouraging our students to embrace the revision process. Just like everything else, we now complete assignments at breakneck speed without really paying attention to what we've been asked to do. Our work and the quality of it when we hand it off to someone else needs to send a prideful message about how we feel about what we've been asked to do and how we've tackled the task. That's why I'm trying to revise this chapter very carefully. The content is obviously very important, but if I've poorly executed the mechanics of the writing, then I convey a strange message about my level of care and investment in the project.
Just something I'm thinking about. Another way of considering why paying careful attention to our writing is important.