Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Process, or, Cate Hates Craft Books

Thanks to some excellent teamwork between Dunes Review, the official publication of Michigan Writers, and Traverse City's Brilliant Books, the unofficial coolest bookstore around, I was recently able to participate in both an in-store reading and an online interview as the author of a poem--"Rn (86)"--featured in the most recent issue of Dunes. Caitlin Marsh, the social media manager at Brilliant Books, gave me the option of answering some or all of the questions she posed, and I exercised my right (write?) to ignore a few of them, because I didn't think I had good answers. They were all about the writing and manuscript-sharing parts of being a writer.

Turns out I hate to talk about process, because it's boring. Not unimportant, mind you: mundane, uneventful. This is probably why I rarely made it to the end of any craft book ever assigned to me (five years out of grad school, now I can say things like this with impunity). Except for John Gardner's On Becoming a Novelist. Fuck that book, which I stopped reading on its own (lack of) merit.

This is undoubtedly coming across as a little hypocritical of me, seeing as how much of my blog content stems from me trying to give advice about how to write. But I'm doing it in a way that makes sense to me: a little at a time, one topic at a time, not unlike the way Writer's Digest and other periodicals address craft. Too much, and it feels either preachy or stifling.

But I recognize two things here: first, that process IS important to all of us who write, and we can't ignore it. Second, that writers are lucky to have people who can--and are willing to--talk about it so we can deepen our understanding of the writing life. Many thanks to those people (yes, even John Gardner). You do important work, even if some of us are stubborn about addressing it.


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