Friday, February 03, 2006

Second Thoughts

Maybe limiting the editing process isn't such a good idea, even in a blog. I read over yesterday's piece last night and was appalled by my overall emphasis: Save the Louisiana coast for the FOOD!!!! I particularly love crawfish etoufee being Cajun myself, but I see now that I wrote more about the food and not enough about the people, the culture, and the environment. The issue goes far beyond menu options, and I need to call attention to that.

Although sometimes whole essays or stories present themselves as full entities, these occasions are rare for me. I need to revisit a piece of work several times before putting it out for public consumption and it's still flawed.

But I'm looking forward to the rewrite process. It's both lure and reward. Writing is organic. It grows and I love to watch it grow. When I first sit down, I'm excited to see what happens. I throw words and ideas down, conscious of, but not worried about, clarity, connection, conciseness. At this point, I don't stress too much because I know there are forgotten angles, structural screw-ups, words misused, people offended. It's on the revisits that a piece develops and deepens, and for me, that's where the fun is. I am seduced by the promise of discovering something in my head I didn't know was there the first time around. Returning to the work leads into "epiphany."

This self-enlightenment can only come from setting aside a project and letting it percolate. That's trite, but it's dead-on accurate. While the first draft is locked in my subconscious (the brain's back burner) , I go about my life. It cooks. I forget about it. Then I come back. The act of moving it out to the front of the stove (the brain) is rewarding. What do I have here? I made this? Let me taste it. Has the flavor of the dish (story/essay) deepened? What spices (a sex scene, more conflict, a startling fact) will it need to be better? What in the world have I forgotten? The best and most gratifying part is, if it isn't just right, gumbo or essay, I can usually fix it!!!

3 comments:

Secret Sister said...

You are obsessed with food today? I really miss crawfish bisque. Remember how grandma would use some tubular part of the crawfishs' exoskeleton and stuff it with chopped crawfish blend (I don't know - I was five) and then put those in the bisque. I remember having to slide that part out and I loved sucking on the shell. Heaven! Gingerbread from the bakery we got the wonderful bread we ate the crawfish with. I could die and go to heaven. The fact is the cajun experience is nothing without the food - it defines southern Louisiana's people and places. "Where is your favorite fishing hole?" "Redfish you catch yourself on Grand Isle is better than anywhere else." And trust me - Mississippi Catfish has nothing on gulf Catfish.

Gay Degani said...

Gingerbread and crawfish bisque??? That I don't remember. But the bisque. Those little tubes were the body shells as I remember and sucking on them is worth a few days of life!

Speaking of ""Where yo' favorite fishing hole at?" "I din' see you at d' Cathedral Sunday" "Are you Catholic" "Who's yo' momma?" and "Can you make a rue?" The last three combine,I think, to make the title of a recipe book.

Secret Sister said...

We didn't eat the gingerbread with the bisque. We ate the great french bread with that! We ate the gingerbread at other times - they were like big slabs of brick and tasted so good for dessert. We have to be able to get some pralines when we visit. Good ones, that is - not from Stuckey's while on the road. Although I am sure there aren't many, if any, Stuckey's around any more. Those were the days. Am I really saying that about summer vacations with Dad driving? It has been a long week.