Scrapping the Draft

Keynes made Laissez-faire economic policy seem easy. Somehow he managed to write about it with a certain kind of grace. I, on the other hand, struggled to get a six page draft out on the subject. Yet, even though it wasn’t perfect I looked at that finished draft in the way a dog looks at a scrap from the dinner table.

Then I reread the prompt, only to realize that I had used up the entire page limit to answer one part of a three part question. When I realized that my draft was written on a bed of lies and misinformation I realized that my paper was nothing more than a sad bologna sandwich on wonder bread.

So, I coped in the only way I could: chocolate milk and procrastination.

When incessantly twiddling my thumbs became too much to handle, I took to combing through essays with writers talking about writing in order to figure out what to do next. Luckily, Annie Dillard answered my call (HALLELUJAH). By no means does her book The Writing Life serve as the answer to all my problems–I still don’t know why the sky is blue, or if there was a shooter on the grassy knoll–but I did learn that sometimes you have to ditch the draft.

I chose to read the Dillard piece because it was the first file I opened. I chose to write about it because it managed to relate to the struggle I am currently facing with another writing assignment. I find it two parts poetic, and one part eery that I chose a piece that discussed the process of throwing out a draft, while trying to figure out how to throw out a draft.

She describes it as knocking out a load bearing wall in a house. Taking the part of the paper that currently makes it work, and shoving it down into the deep dark depths of your garbage disposal. It’s a hard process to come to terms with. You build it up, word by word, until you have something complete; something that can stand on its own.

It’s tough. You look for those sentences that you can save, only to realize that Dillard was right when she says you are going to have to start over.

I open a new document, and stare at the blinking cursor. Trying to find a way to thread your needle so that the string of words I am about to lay down will eventually turn into a final draft. In these final moments before I start writing again, I struggle with deleting my work. Dillard describes this as some kind of bizarre form of courage, but I claim ownership to these words. They are mine, and the way I put them down on paper is unique.

I ran out of chocolate milk. Now back to writing. 

451 Degrees Fahrenheit is actually the temperature it takes for paper to ignite without being exposed to a flame.


Leave a Reply