First Drafts

I’ve been thinking a lot about first drafts lately. On Wednesday, after my first “Postcard Wednesday” post went live, I decided I’d use the post (and the rush of creative thinking) to start the first draft of my postcard book. I opened up the Scrivener project I’d created in June and felt detached from the chapter headings I’d created back then. I made another subheading, and titled it Essay 1. I wrote 37 words and added the two pictures from Wednesday’s post. I was unsure about where this was going or if I was getting ahead of myself, but a draft has to start somewhere. I started it at Number 1.

There’s a quote that many folks online line to cite, attributed to Dorothy Parker: “I hate writing, I love having written.” It’s supposed to embody how difficult some writers find the writing process. But I enjoy the rough draft stage. It’s not all fun and games, but I like the freedom to put down on paper anything that comes to mind. I am a perfectionist and I have strategies to revise extensively. I try to enjoy the first draft stage.

But I find difficulty in starting. That’s why I often start a first draft with a freewrite. I give myself permission to fuck it up, to write whatever. That strategy only works when I trust that I will eventually come to some coherent idea after the first few clumsy attempts at the first sentences. And trusting yourself is hard!

I think that’s where writerly self-care is important: we have to nurture The Writer Inside Us so that we can develop the trust to push past those first few clumsy sentences, all the way through to the end of the first draft.

Readers, do you feel you trust your writerly voice? How did you develop that?

Scenes from a Week, Back in Texas Edition (10.13.2014-10.19.2014)

2014-10-13 08.29.44Monday

I managed to get myself out of bed early, take my daughter to pre-k, and make my way to Rice University to attend a conference on teaching in higher education. (My thoughts on the conference are in a forthcoming issue of Women in Higher Education). Sometimes lipstick and a new pair of sunglasses are what I need to face the day. Oh, and coffee.

2014-10-14 19.49.18


I had the chance to visit the Rice University campus at night. I’d been there during the day, but there’s something magical about walking through a college campus at night. It’s so quiet it’s unsettling. As my companions and I walked through the campus, this Jaume Plensa sculpture made me stop. First it was the brightness; despite the fact that campus was illuminated by harsh orange street lamps, this sculpture shone white hot. When you take a close look you see that it’s actually built by letters. I had to resist the urge to sit next to it and let the warmth of the lights wash over me. I also realized that this sculpture calls forth a set of sculptures along Allen Parkway also made of letters, titled “Tolerance.”

2014-10-18 09.15.41Friday

I love getting postcards in the mail. That is all.





2014-10-19 14.15.26Sunday

I go to church sometimes. No, not the Catholic church I grew up in. More on that in a future blog post. I have been going to a nondenominational Christian church right outside of Houston. Miss E enjoys going too, although I suspect it has to do with the coloring and the goldfish snacks in the pre-k room than with the message, but that’s alright. Yesterday she asked me if we could have tacos after church. I just wanted to go home, but I considered that I’d have to make lunch when I got home. And really, what other plans did we have? So we went to a restaurant in Sugar Land and she got her taco. I had enchiladas and this delicious Tres Leches cake.

Sometimes dessert makes it all better.