prequel: why write about writing

I’ve been practicing creative writing since I was a kid. Never studied it formally. My education was free at my local public library. After college, I thought, well, heck, I’ve read all these books. I’m going to write one.

So I did.

It was bad.

I had no idea what I was doing. I could feel all the flaws but I couldn’t define them or point to them on the page.

I got into graduate school to study creative writing. That’s when I really started being a writer. Not just performing the act of writing, but understanding what it means to develop a story, to read like a writer, and to engage purposefully with the creative process.

In grad school, I had this amazing opportunity to teach a classroom of undergraduates a multi-genre intro to creative writing course. It was a total blast.

Now, I have graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, applied to over 30 academic jobs, and had one dud phone interview. There’s this one requirement in all applications to teach creative writing. Strong history of publication. Code for: Published one book, minimum.

I’m working on a book. (It’s going to be great. If I can get it finished. Then published.) But until it’s done, my chances of teaching creative writing are slim. So what do I do until then? Write lesson plans for an imaginary class? Never write down, and thus forget, all of the little things the work teaches me every day?

No. In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard writes:

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

My goal is to record and share my writing life: strategies, frustrations, triumphs, what works, what doesn’t work, and what I learn. To keep giving, freely and abundantly, so nothing is lost.

If all this is just me preaching to no one on a soapbox in my little corner of the internet, that’s fine. I take myself too seriously anyway.

But if you do happen to find this blog, and you like what you see, read along, friend, and let’s see where the page takes us.

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Allison Wall

I'm a writer writing about my writing life. There's a lot of writing. And writing about writing. You get the idea.

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