I sent a review/essay off today to a journal I've wanted to publish in for a very long time. I'd sent an earlier draft and received good advice, so it will be good to find out how close I've "got" it now.
When I write, I feel fully alive. The first phase is hardest -- getting down on paper what it is I want to say. The striving for clarity, for coherence, for internal logic, for something truly worthy of my time and the time of others . . . Once that is roughly accomplished, my favorite part begins -- making it say that idea how I want it said. Striving now for conciseness without loss of meaning, the telling detail, the most effective syntax, precise diction, making it exactly right -- or as close as a mere human can ever come.
When I write, I learn. Not just about the subject matter, but about myself. How I think, how I work, how I relate to ideas but also how I relate to people. I am reminded of the value of patience and revision, the need to be quiet and listen, to let the work be the focus instead of myself. All of these I need continual lessons in as I try to be a wife, a mother, a colleague, a friend, a teacher.
from Annie Dillard's The Writing Life:
"Who will teach me to write? a reader wanted to know.
"The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time's scrawl as a right and your daring as a necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with your life's strength: that page will teach you to write.
"There is another way of saying this. Aim for the chopping block. If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block."
Writing brings me fully alive, because it connects me as nothing else but childbirth ever has with reality.