Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writing in A New Direction

I was pretty nervous about my writing group meeting last night, which surprised me. I've had the group review several pieces of my writing, and other than the first initial meeting, my only emotion has been pleasant anticipation to get feedback and comments on what can be a solitary pursuit.

But this time, I realized that there were tendrils of nervousness and fear writhing through my midsection on the drive over to the coffee shop. Where was this coming from?

I decided it was because my piece up for review was from a different genre than what I normally write. Actually, that's not exactly true. It was a personal essay, very similar to what I write on this blog. So you would think, with the blog being more than two years old (Is that possible?!? Crazy!), that I am accustomed to the personal essay genre.

And I am, in a blog sense. But writing a personal essay for actual (read: paying) publication feels different. The piece needs to be longer, and more in-depth. I realized that, to me, the biggest difference between blogging and writing An Essay is that, with a blog, I can just ask the question. Raise an idea. Put something out there for the universe to ponder.

But with An Essay, I must not only pose the question, but work through it and come up with some kind of conclusion. It doesn't have to be the perfect answer, but it must be the answer that I have found to be true for myself. Even if it's only a glimmer of an answer, there has to be some definite ending point. Oh, and I have to revise.

And that's new. And troubling. Putting it all together and revising is a lot of work. But I'm excited at the prospect. I think my blog is making me a better personal essay writer, and I think as I write more personal essays, I'll also become a better blogger. Is that the answer to writing success? I'm not sure, but since this is just a blog post and not An Essay, I don't have to know;)


Jonathan said...

I've thought about looking for a writers group for a long time... I used to run an online thing called "ThoughtCafe" (which still exists, but is nothing like it was "back in the day").

I'm just thinking that I'm going to need some kind of escape from my life soon (children arriving en-masse), but maybe blogging is that escape?

Writing essays is a skill unto itself - my other half always quotes the rule "say what you're going to say, say it, and then say what you've said".

M. Lubbers said...

I go back and forth on whether the writing group is actually improving my writing or not. At the end of the day, at least it makes me think about writing critically and also makes me create some new pieces at least every couple months. That's definitely something I need help with!

I'll keep Wendy's quote in mind as I try my hand at essay writing;)

M. Lubbers said...

As I mentioned on your blog, Jonathan, I like writing the blog as a compliment to my daily life because even though it's about what's already happening, it also gives me some perspective. Now that I've been doing it for a few years, it's hard to imagine not doing it!