Did I write that?
I could write a beautiful, poignant 1,000-word version of this post that’d keep me from my kids for a couple hours. Alternatively, I could write a more succinct, less illuminating version that takes me only ten minutes. I’m opting for the latter.
My sister Rache and I are very similar in some ways. She’s an ASNAC nerd who took me to the Jorvik Viking Center on my one trip to England, so we definitely diverge in some ways, but … in many ones where it counts, we’re clearly cut from the same cloth.
“Did I say [this one thing], or just think it?” she or I will ask each other. More often than not, we’ll have simply thought it. For us, it’s easy enough to confuse what’s been considered with what’s been spoken. Is it like that for you?
When I first wrote The Monster’s Daughter, it was 60,000-ish words. It varied between 50,000 and 65,000 words until it was published, landing somewhere near 50,000 words.
Now, in the rare case someone asks me a book question when we’re talking, I’ll occasionally puzzle over their question. “Don’t you remember this one scene–” I’ll start asking before realizing that one wasn’t actually in what I published. Just because I know and remember a scene doesn’t mean others can or do. Some scenes weren’t in the version they read.
As the author, it’s hard to track all the versions. For a while, it was even a little embarrassing when I recalled something I wished I’d done differently in the end: “Ugh, I can’t believe I chose that!”
But, you know what? The first draft of the second fiction book I wrote was so much better than the final draft of my first one. It’s not an accident. It’s a direct result of all the practice I got working on the first one, and then engaging with people on this blog afterward.
Have I finished my first edit of my second fiction book, Elelu? Nope. Never mind that I wrote it five or six years ago now. I’ve got other things on my plate!
Time and energy are in short supply.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a political post with daft, ill founded conclusions. I chose to save time over clearly articulating all the most important connections. Strangely, this ended up being a good thing. I learned from it.
Oh, shit, I did that poorly! I realized the next day. I shouldn’t have done that at all! At least let me have articulated this assumption or that before I posted?!
Nope. Nah. Maybe I’d thought about it, but maybe then I decided–consciously or not–to skip some things I thought would be given.
Nothing is given when writing politics. Nothing. Also, politics is really freakin’ hard to understand with nuance, let alone write about. I find it about seven trillion times harder writing a short piece about politics than pulling an entire fiction novel out of the recesses of my brain, for eleven trillion reasons it’d take a lot of time to explain. It might get a little easier with every little bit of practice, but “a little” doesn’t cover much ground when you’re running dashes and want to run marathons.
If someone thought being “colorblind” was a good thing, that doesn’t mean they were bad for thinking and acting on it, though colorblindness ends up hurting most dark-skinned people in practice.
[ see here for more on politician-cultivated, strategic “colorblindness” ]
If someone thought the one relatively well off, dark-skinned person they knew could speak for all dark-skinned people in this country, that doesn’t mean they were bad for not understanding how class intersects with race. Someone with dark skin who’s had it comparatively well due to other privileges isn’t well situated to speak for those who’ve suffered from both dark skin and poverty, but how’d one see this if they can’t see the abysmal depths of poverty?
If someone, like me, thought class didn’t matter and so tried not to see it, it didn’t mean they were bad. They were doing what they could with what they had.
[ see here for more on (re)discovering class ]
Whatever you or I did yesterday, we can do something different today. We can definitely do something different tomorrow.
Yesterday isn’t who we were. It’s where we were.
But … did I write that, or just think it?