Writing about Writing


There is nothing climactic about starting to write. When the point of my pen first presses against a clean page, or my fingers hover over a keyboard as I stare at the blank white void of a new document, I feel nothing greater than beginning. No matter how much pleasurable thought has led to this moment, it remains a period of conception, a rumbling of thunder in the distance. However inspiring my idea, nothing has taken root. Like the pale blue lines in a composition notebook, I feel blank; empty. And then.

And then.

Those two powerful words cover the transition from conception to birth and, suddenly, I am alight. I am on fire with searing thoughts, barraging that poor paper with thousands of words in an attempt to convey those thoughts with true eloquence. Writing is the beginning of an ill-fated process. A finished product, compiled of my words, will never adequately reflect those whirlwind moments of development as my brain child starts to develop slowly into something recognizable. Writing is that first fluttering kick. Writing is heart beats. Writing is breathing; existence. Writing is coping.


If I write to cope, there exists true paradoxical irony within the entity of the written word. Writing is not everyone’s idea of an effective coping mechanism. Essays, specifically, are the embodiment of stress for college students the world over. Before undertaken, written pieces look much like forbidden fruit hanging from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If left alone, all is well.

In beginning to write, we are exposed to an entire world of dirty, hurting, glorious imperfections. Attempting to write about anything subjects the writer to a world of imperfections with which they must, from this point forward, coexist. The first time I picked up a pen and wrote, my simple innocent world was forever tarnished. To write was original sin and I was a bewildered Eve, eyes open to a world of impossibilities and imperfections, knowing I was flawed beyond  my ability to repair, but that no gilt-tongued serpent was to blame. He was just the pen, pointing the way to the tempting fruit of the written idea.

pen point

Perhaps essays are merely “short prose compositions on any subject,” but there is evidence of greater potential, greater depth, than those few words of definition imply. Essays are an excavation of any subject. Attempts to reach this depth, to plumb the profound value of a subject,  often seem moot. Why write when can cause such frustration? But that pain of labor is actually birthing a new body of idea which has truly been grappled with. Essays are not a randomly composed “prose compositions”. They are not merely an attempt to answer a question or convey a point. They are a commencement; a beginning of critical thought expression to leave a well-defined fingerprint on the clean window of discussion.

writing prints

Writing, like sin, grows habitual and commonplace. Since the skills were first drilled into me as a child, I was in the habit of writing. I could formulaically regurgitate words, quotes and phrases into pieces which constantly receive high marks and positive little comments in red pen. I was not struggling.

And then.

And then I undertook the writing of a personal narrative. I began to rub at the tarnish on my writing skills, trying to polish a little shine back into the surface. Through review of logic, persuasion, reasoning and critical reading of my own work, I began to see weak patches all over my writing. I also grew more intentional in my use of descriptions. Word selection become more important as I strove to include only what was vital to my story. Additionally, I began to recognize a need for structure, even within creativity.  These were only a few of numerous pits I found in the surface of my writing abilities, which (at first glance) never appeared dull. It was while writing personal narrative that I realized that how unbelievably far I still had to go as a writer.

long road

When is any piece of writing truly “complete”?  I am a person driven by due dates. It is actually debatable that I would ever “finish” anything if I was not required to submit a semblance of finality in a draft. Usually, my writing will progress until the day that I must hand it in and then I let it go, in hopes that it was finished enough. I attack papers in hopes that I can write something complete in my first draft. Throughout this first draft, I write and edit and revise as I go along. Lightning strikes and I am suddenly writing every idea and word and breath in my head out onto paper. The end product (the aftermath) constitutes my first draft. Revisions are much more difficult. I try and give my work some space, so that when I approach it for a fina reviewl, it will hopefully be with a fresh perspective. In the end, I attempt to turn in a piece which is more complete than my initial few drafts, but I never feel a sense of completion or finality. Writing is never finished. It has infinite possibilities.

I love to write because it has such potential. I have written essays for as long as I can remember. Since the time when I was little, I have had certain tenets of writing hammered puritanically into my writing psyche. My “creative side” asserts itself within the framework of these rules. I often have many innovative ideas for how to write something differently, but usually these come after I have completed a paper and it is beyond revision stages. For this reason, I habitually stick to the structural standards of essay writing, with variations on one general theme (of intro, body, conclusion). Despite this, I enjoy playing with words. When I am feeling creative, I enjoy using words to paint layers of meaning and connotation that will create the perfect sensation in the mind of the reader. When I want to write about a raindrop, I want my reader to feel its cheery splatter on their cheek and to taste its bland clarity and to see it in all its glory as a teardrop from the celestial eyes. My creativity often asserts itself through word choice and use of devices such as simile and metaphor. Comparisons are my bread and butter.


If I was lying near death at the edge of a cliff somewhere and I could write anything, any last thing, it would probably not be creative. I would write a true sort of story, set around the kitchen in my house. My huge Italian family would be sitting post-pasta and having our traditional wine and nostalgia for dessert. My family makes up most of who I am. My story would draw on conversations, history, stories, and anecdotes; revolving around conversation and bringing in information that exists apart from my family through dialogue and flashback. It would be a mixture of genres, incorporating poetry, dialogue and narrative. I want to share the humor of my family’s inglorious history, including mafia ties and eccentricities along with the realities of existence to paint a real picture of what comprises the people I love. Ultimately, it would be a commentary on life; my life, made luminous in the view of others through the collection of facets I share; the many cuts that smoothed the surface of who I am.


I want to convey all of the faces of my life. When I write, I start to scratch at this responsibility of expression. I have a need to communicate and put my thoughts into words. When everything is scattered and my emotions are wild and I feel like nothing will ever be right, I write to cope. When everything is joyful and the sun is shining and that gorgeous magnolia tree in front of my window is blooming, I write to convey the tangible beauty of the sensations of life. When I feel bland and dull, I write because it is all I know to do. I write so that, someday, someone might look at the words I wrote and we might develop a relationship through my words. I write because when everything else fails me, I still have my head and my words have not left me thus far. Words have brought me the salvation and the Faith to which I adhere. Words announced my arrival in the world. Words have created every meaningful thing I have ever possessed. I write because it is reliable and personal and tangible and real; I may not be an incredible singer, or a talented dancer or painter, I may not even be the best writer, but sometime it is the only method I have for expression, and so I write on.


Published by Abby

Dabbling in decoratives is an ongoing obsession. I love having a go at This, That and the Other. . . tackling projects that tickle my fancy, hoarding costumes (for the "Someday" that I own a dress-up tea-house for grown-ups) and hosting themed parties whenever I am not immersed in teaching French and Writing to high school students. In the interest of full transparency, there's something serious you should know: I overuse the ellipsis . . . frequently. Embarassingly enough, it seems to be the punctuation that best captures my stream of thought as it flits off of one subject and towards the next!

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