Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Procrastinate

Do you? I mean, I can really procrastinate about some things. I do it all the time, or practically all the time, with writing projects. Long ago, the seed got planted in my mind that I produce much better work when I don't have any time to get it completed and have to rush. I remember exactly when I found this out. I was a sophomore at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, and we had an essay due in English. I had not done it. Cannot remember now why not, but I remember well the panic about not having an assignment done at all. That would be worse than a bad grade on the assignment.

So I solved the problem by writing the essay in the class I was in at the time. I forget what class that was, but it was the one right before English class. But I remember very well the subject of the essay. It had to be about some current event in the news, and I wrote about the election of Pope John XXIII. I had just happened. So that would make the time of the essay some time in early November 1958.

Well, guess what happened? The essay I dashed off without laboring over it, without any proofing, on the fly . . . it wins a writing award from the Times Picayune newspaper! It had to be nominated by the teacher in the first place. So, hell, what do you think that teaches an impressionable sophomore in high school? Right . . . and to this day, I do not do multiple drafts of anything I write. I edit as I go along, but when I'm finished, I'm finished the piece.

I found there's nothing more individual than people's writing "ways." All the ink that's spent by writers trying to tell other people how to do it . . . waste of time. People who write, write. And their way is the only way that really works for them.

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