One part of the #hpj101 project was writing a reflection on how we see writing. This was my reflection.
My writing process is iterative. From what I can tell, it’s pretty darned iterative for most people. But for a few geniuses, everyone has to revise and rewrite, and that’s before the text goes to the editor, the publisher, or the colleague. Iterativity is central. I’d argue that iterativity is writing’s essence.
At the start of the writing cycle there’s generation. I love this part. Full body highs, hairs standing on end, endless ideas racing, can’t type fast enough even though I’m rocking 4,000 words an hour. Smell that caffeine? Yo, I don’t need it. Text buzzes me hard. And yeah, a lot of it is shit, but some of it’s pretty tight too. You know why it’s tight? Because it’s authentic, and I can draft words like “tight,” include references to Repo Man, and present myself as an angry faggot ally to the Black Panther Party--even if it’s only for a moment. In generation, my ideas become embodied. They live and take form. Just like mist or an iris’ scent, though, that power is present and then gone. I have any voice that I can summon and type.
Into revision. Oh land of the dopest dope, that is not revision land. But revision land is where I know I must workout. Otherwise the endless intellectual sides of cold fries will just make my text lardy and then die of a heart attack (reader drops it like a smelly, luke-warm fish). So I work out emotionally, textually, intellectually. These workouts bring focus to my piece. Tens of thousands of texts have been written on revision. But revision is quite simple: it is our work.
Revision usually means I drop my Walter Middy delusions of being a BPP ally and, more realistically, know that I’m a privileged gay white guy that’s trying to reduce white privilege and power abuse in my college and my environment. Revision means dehyperbolizing my text and turning two-dimensional macho performances into loving relationships with texts that know cuddling.
Everything else beyond that is a hybrid of generation or revision. Edits are revision. Grammar is revision. Editors generate, if they rock the casbah, and revise. CFPs generate ideas. Forums generate ideas. Conversations generate ideas.
In the center of all this is the rhizome. Sure, I’ve been playing that card a lot, and I know the concept’s been floating around a lot, but so what. It’s real. The concept and reality work. And that rhizome is relationship and relationships.
Generation and revision of texts are ways of relating with ourselves and others. The text we create can and does reshape how we see ourselves, how we be, and how we live. When we and our texts interact, we can choose to put our text or our relationship first--or we can put them together and say, “This is me.”