Slice of Life: Writing Discomfort

“But I like my beginning,” he said. “Do I have to revise?”

“I felt the same way when I looked at the beginning of my essay. I liked it. But I tried out other ideas, knowing if I didn’t want a revised version, I could keep the old. Just try it, see what happens,” I told him.

As I plan tomorrow’s lesson on elaboration, I keep this conversation in mind.

Writers… help readers envision by telling the story bit by bit. I avoid this type of writing,  leaning toward images and ideas.  But tomorrow’s lesson wouldn’t let me get away with this choice.

How could this strategy possibly work for me in my draft? In a moment of desperation, I considered writing a new essay to fit this lesson.  Crazy talk.  Miserable and resistant as I was to this idea, I knew this was the time take my own advice: try it, and see what happens.

I dug in looking for a moment that was clear in my mind but not on the page. One that might benefit from a storyteller’s voice. I doubted it existed until this line popped out.

Standing in line he was ready for school, but when his mother left he transformed into a caged animal.

Had I not been scouring for this opportunity I would have left this line alone, but tonight in the spirit of trying it, I pull out my yellow drafting paper. And even though I don’t want to, I struggle through.

The boy’s eyes widened when his mother kneeled down. His lips trembled with her hug. His shoulders raised with her kiss and the teacher reached for his hand. Enraged, he bent back the fingers attached to that hand and ran toward his mother who had left the room. Down the hall, he ran until a chainlink fence trapped him inside. 

Hmm. Tomorrow’s lesson on elaboration is tonight’s lesson in writing discomfort. Writers learn while writing things that feel wrong; things that seem unnecessary.; things that are deleted. Tonight I value the process over product. Believing that builds the writer.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.