By Katie Corbett
This month, I’m posting pieces of an essay I wrote back in 2013. In these pieces, I reflect on my writing process. Many of the ideas in these posts are still true today. Enjoy!
I’m proud to say I’ve been writing every day for over a month—a practice I used to say I didn’t have time for in the past. This practice has forced me to write in more than one genre, switching between genres without more than a day between each switch. I used to focus on one genre at a time—either the novel I was working on, or a class in poetry at my high school, or personal essay when I took the “Creative Nonfiction” course at the university I attended. I never thought I would be able to switch from one genre to another so quickly, only dependent on what I felt like writing that day. I feared at first that the uncertainty of what style I would write in each day would bother me, but I found that I express myself differently depending on the genre in which I am writing. I feel that commenting on these different methods of expression, as well as on my writing process itself, will help me to get to know myself better, and in turn, will help me continue to grow as a writer.
My fiction is the place where I explore things that are as far from reality as possible. Fantasy is my escape, and almost all my characters pop in and out of mirrors, change into wolves during the full moon, or haunt people after death. I’ve tried to write “normal” fiction, but unless there’s some element of the weird in it, I just don’t feel passion for the story. My fiction is very character-driven, so without passion, the story doesn’t really go anywhere. I rarely write about scene; describing things is a chore for me. I don’t know if this is because it is difficult to describe things as a totally blind writer, or if I really just don’t care all that much about what things look like—I just want to tell the story. I can tell I’m growing as a fiction writer because when I reread stories I’ve written in the past, I’m able to find areas on which to expand and sentences to improve. I used to hate revision; whatever I had written, I had written, and I usually didn’t change anything. I’m glad to see this growth in myself, as most of writing involves editing and revision. It’s a necessary part of the craft.
Poetry is the genre in which I feel the most free to express my emotions about the happenings in my life, whether it’s a romance ending, a fight with a friend, or how I respond to situations in life as a blind person. Most of my poems are non-rhyming and non-stylistic, which gives me the freedom to just say what I want and not worry about form. I really enjoy automatic writing—just writing whatever comes to mind—and revising and organizing the pieces later. I don’t use much imagery or simile in my poems; I just write what is. My poems aren’t cryptic, and if a reader knows me at all—or has a general idea of what I’m going through personally—it isn’t hard to figure out what my poems are about, or what events might have triggered the poetry. I’m not used to being so autobiographic and emotional in my writing, but reflecting on my emotions through poetry—the rhythm and musicality of it—helps me release the feelings in a constructive, reflective way.
My personal essays and creative nonfiction pieces are mostly about people. I write about how they have affected my life, and how I think differently because of having met them. My favorite pieces to write while I was in journalism school were personality profiles. From there, I started thinking not only about what people did—which is generally the focus of the personality profile—but about how these doings impacted the lives of others. It was easiest to do this by thinking about the people who affected my own life, from the toughest professor I had in college, to the scholarship mentor at a convention. The idea resonated with me, so I just continued to consider people in that context. I’ve tried to write about stand-alone issues, but I have a hard time separating myself from my essays—that is, writing about the issue without getting too emotional and going on a long, tangential rant—so I have decided to stick with personal experiences and encounters with people until I feel ready to tackle the issues and ideas themselves.
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