First drafts

Last week, I left a long, plaintive comment on this other, better blog because lately, like in the past year or so, I’ve been struggling with producing content for this space. I had been attributing the block to a couple of things, including how my write-all-the-time muscle has a permanent cramp now that I’m not a student anymore. I’ve also been singing the “Twitter Killed the Blog Star” song, but the truth is that I’ve never been a good blogger. This is what I said to Alex’s blog:

The part about writing online and doing it quickly spoke to me because that’s my tragic blogging flaw. I have ideas. Well, I have thoughts at least. I want to write about them, but I have a notoriously slow reaction time. (Do you like how I used “notoriously” there? As if people sit around at bars and coffeehouses talking about how that Katie Pruitt just cannot get it together enough to react to ANYTHING in a timely fashion? What I really mean is probably something like “historically,” but after this aside, how can I go back and change it?) This comment right here is a perfect example because I read this post last night, wanted to comment, didn’t, thought about it all day, and finally decided that I should say what I want to say.

Usually, by the time I have gathered my thoughts and figured out just what I want to say, the moment has passed in a major way. For example, over the summer, I started a handful of posts that were all “zomg, guys! Vampire Weekend is so neato!” By now, everyone who is ever going to care about Vampire Weekend already cares. I’m not saying their time in the sun is over; I just know that I have nothing fresh to say about them. This is true even more about my recent rediscovery of the 70s sitcom Rhoda.

It’s not that I believe that everything interesting to read on the internet should be about stuff that is happening right now or five minutes from now. It’s just that my reaction time is so slow that by the time I want to talk about something, the moment has passed even for me. If the thing no longer sets my heart on fire, anything I write about it will flounder, even if I still really like the thing.

So, how do I speed up my reaction time? I implore you, Mr. Internet Writing Man.

Whether I like it or not, I am very much a writing instructor in my approach to conveying my ideas in writing. (And if you’ve ever had a conversation with me about anything, you know that written down is really the only way I am able to have coherent thoughts.) Much of the success of interneting depends on being able to put stuff out there without rethinking, rewriting, and rereading eleventy million times first. I stand in front of classes of student writers and say things like, “Revision will save your life,” “Just try reading it out loud, and you’ll see,” and “No one wants to read your nasty first drafts. Clean that shit up.” Well, maybe that last one is an exaggeration, but that is the sentiment I am trying to relate. I’m pretty sure that’s what they hear, too, except that they don’t know the difference between “revision” and “proofreading” so my caveats and instructions and pleas all end up reinforcing the grammar anxiety instilled in them in K-12 classrooms all over the United States.

You see, I’m part of the problem. I’m all, “Filter yourselves, for pete’s sake!” when that isn’t what I want or what I mean. What I want is for writers to treat writing as an actual representation of themselves and respect it as such. What I want is to figure out a way to proofread the technical stuff without proofreading the non-technical, content-based stuff. A balance between raw and polished is what I’m after. What I’ll probably end up with is some totally artificial, manufactured stream-of-consciousness bullshit that I will be embarrassed to post.

See what I mean about overthinking? Sheesh. It doesn’t help that I recently learned that one of the coolest, most accomplished, most talented, most role-modely lady bosses (yes, that is what how we refer to women in power in women’s studies) on this Earth sometimes reads my blog.