I created my first chapbook and shared it among my fellow writers in my method writing class. “Process” is the philosophy and the practice of the class. It was not about the product. The reward of the process was the product, and for the class it was putting together a chapbook that contained a collection of writings we had done during the class. The philosophy was to write from the deep voice and to express this voice using tools.
I looked over the pages I had written over the past 10 weeks of the class. I couldn’t find any real gems that stood out or was good enough to publish into a chapbook. I found my journal entries were scattered themes, and showed my tendency to avoid getting into the story of who I am. But I had to mine what I’d done, or make something new with what I already knew. I felt frustrated and fear that the raw stuff wasn’t good enough. I lashed out my feelings in unusual ways, and learned something about my behavior patterns when I feel at a loss. It felt like school when I would cram the night before an exam and wished that I had gone to class and done the homework.
I stuck with it, and I found some entries I could rework and dig deeper into. I surprised myself at what came forth. It was a slippery slope, though in the end I got enough material to make a decent chapbook. The five pieces I put into the chapbook were made up of: a new poem, three journal entries (that I polished from its raw form) and one from one of my blogs from way way back (“Play It Loud”). I reviewed the blogs before picking one. I felt dismayed and disappointed in the lack of eye and attention I had put into some of them. I saw my attention was more about the product rather than the process. After getting it out of me, I published it without putting in the extra time and elbow grease to clean up mistakes and edit parts that would be make some ideas more palatable and digestible.
What I learned, in keeping myself within the boundaries of the material, was that I still had to edit and polish the rough stuff. This has been my weakness in writing – going over the raw material and shaping it into something that has worth to somebody. In creating the chapbook I also learned to care about the product. Sounds confusing right? Didn’t I just finish a writing class about the process and not the product? It’s like acting, as described by the teacher. The best acting is acting without making it a conscious effort. Writing with process in mind is being aware of the tools without product in mind, and being consistent to a schedule of writing. When I do this then my writing will lead to a product.
The relationship of my chapbook to my blog is I need to pay attention to what I’m bringing to the writing of the blog. What I’m sharing with you are the truth of my stories, how skillful I am to write from a deep voice and some basic grammar tools. I remind myself to take care of the basics and then I’ll have something of worth to share with you.