I have to keep a blog for my literary journalism class this semester. It’s supposed to be like an insider’s guide to my writing process. So I’ve decided to start reposting those entries here, too.
From Literary Journalism blog - January 21, 2010
Before beginning any writing project I usually panic. I either think I won't have any good ideas, or I won't be able to combine the ideas I do have into a coherent piece of writing, or I think what I write will just be terrible. The hardest part of any writing project, for me, is beginning. Now that I'm a more experienced writer than I used to be, I know that as soon as I open a word document on my computer or put pen to paper and write anything - no matter how inane or useless - it breaks that panic and I can get on with my project. I know other writers experience similar pangs of panic and self doubt. It's comforting to know that a prolific writer such as John McPhee has moments when his confidence plummets to zero, according to Norman Sims in his essay "The Art of Literary Journalism."
Other than that initial panic, I feel confident as a writer - confident, but eager and willing to learn more about the craft of writing. My desire to learn more and hone my craft is the reason I've returned to school as a graduate student. I know my strengths and weaknesses as a writer well. My background is in creative fiction writing, so I hope this will be more of a help than a hindrance as I tackle the art of literary journalism, a genre in which I have little experience.
I am usually a quiet, introverted person, which is one reason I think I became a writer. I can spend many hours alone in front of a computer typing. But even a fiction writer has to crawl out from behind her desk once in awhile. I have conducted a few interviews to gather information for stories, both fiction and nonfiction. Depending on the interviewee, these can be difficult for me. In Sims' essay he quotes Joe Nocera, who says, "You have to build a bond of trust. You have to get people to let their hair down when you're around" (6). My brother is a salesman and he is fantastic at this. I have always envied him for that. I worked as the assistant manager at Borders Books for two years and never quite got the hang of it. My interview skills are a part of my writing process that I hope to improve.