by Amelia Williams (’13)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit
I’m too lenient with my first drafts; I like my first drafts. (That opening sentence was a first draft; the semicolon was a later edit. I quite like it.) I churn something out, because I write in sittings. I am rarely stringing little scribbles and images and soliloquies together that I’ve accumulated throughout the day; it all just kind of comes out at once. I am a big fan of semicolons. But anyhow, I write in bursts. I write like turning the hot water faucet all the way and for those forty-five seconds the water is still cold. And I like how that aggravatingly long period of not-hot water looks, scrawled out on a page.
I write by hand. I hate beginning something on the computer. It has no anchor, nothing tangible, no soil for all the following thoughts and (hopefully?) eloquent metaphors and musings to grow from. I like the feeling of my hand cramping and scribbling things out because I’ve written it too messily, in haste. Perhaps I lied a bit when I said I write in bursts because I do take breaks. Maybe too many breaks. I like to do other things, other assignments or stretch my hamstrings or bob my head to crude rap lyrics. I really like crude rap lyrics. I also like snacks. I had dark chocolate-covered acai berries before I sat down to write this. I like the lingering taste, but now my mouth tastes like medicine. Like I said, breaks.
I need a trigger. I imagine, at least when I am writing poetry, that the poem is some kind of changeling companioned by a feral, blazing dog-like animal. I actually don’t really think that but it came to mind and I wanted to write it out. Too forgiving of first drafts (a word from my teacher Heather, that is actually some other woman’s quote but I’ve forgotten her name (sorry) “all first drafts are shitty first drafts. Am I a narcissist to think my first drafts hold merit? I am probably just a last editor.). Really though I like my poetry to have a bite. I like my poems to be something a reader keeps around the living room of his or her brain, like something lovely on the mantelpiece or a nice pillow. Fiction is like a slow-burning candle of immersion and something a little dangerous. I find myself writing longer and longer pieces the older I get. I am not entirely sure if that means anything at all.
Ultimately I try to write like I am talking to myself. If I had to impress myself, on a page or from the mouth, I would like to be entertained, and intellectually aroused, and perhaps a bit inspired. I try to sound smarter than I actually am (a big perk to writing is having the time to craft the perfect seemingly spontaneous banter that I am nowhere near as adept at in person). I really hadn’t put all that much thought into the process because it works like a muscle now; I want to write and I just do. I write to convince people to keep reading, to intrigue people into the mysterious caravan of my mind. I want people to read what I have to offer and, to be quite honest, decide I am worthy of fame. I don’t think I write to be famous, though. I write as if I already am. That is quite possibly the most atrocious sentence I have ever spelled out but there is truth to it in the sense I write to the audience I hope to have one day. I remind myself every word is a practice for grandeur.
The bottom line is I write until I am happy enough to believe that if I saw my own writing in a bookstore, I would read until I creased the spine and looked around to make sure none of the employees saw me putting it back on the shelf.