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January 11, 2013: The Writing Life—Moving Forward, one Step at a Time

Revision – it means to see again. It’s a term that’s used to refer to writing-related reconceptualization. Even though many writers are unaware of it, it’s quite important. Ideas remain half-baked if one doesn’t attend to them.

I’m now in the thick of working on my Material Matters proposal. The going is now easier because I have redefined my focus. I could not have done this without input from University of Alaska Press Acquisition editor James Engelhardt. I was, in my previous draft of my proposal shuttling back and forth between two writerly areas of interest – composting and the composing process of writers.

Alys Reading

Essentially, I was seeing them as separate entities. A comparison, I was previously writing about apples and oranges. The apples were in one bowl and the oranges were in another. Now they’re in the same bowl.

I am extremely excited about the fact that my book is going to be a MEMIOR – an autobiographical account in which I’m attempting to get at certain truths. The truth here is that forging an identity as a writer while attempting to make a go of living off the grid is extremely difficult. I discovered this the hard way. My erroneous assumption was based on a causal connection, this being that I equated living off the grid with living simply. And furthermore, I equated living simply with having more time to write.

This was not so. For example, living off the grid is time consuming. And it is even more so when you factor in tending to livestock. I now think nothing of the winter practice of hauling the horse manure sled up behind the garden, two, three times a day. However, it’s just one of many activities that fit into the category – cuts into my writing time.

So there you have it. As I told James, proposal writing isn’t my forte. This is because I’m more adept at writing narratives. It’s for this reason that I, in a manner of speaking, am chomping at the bit – I’m eager to start doing what I do so well, which is writing first person accounts. However, working on this proposal has forced me to consider and reconsider the Big Picture. I would be no further along than I am now if I’d been given the go ahead to write this book six months ago. This is because I work inductively, figuring out things as I go along. Essentially, my revisionary process would have been that much more involved and complicated.

Bottom line – holy shit – I’m now doing with my life what I want to be doing with it. I’m now poised to write a memoir about my area of academic specialization – the composing process of writers. This is not going to be a how-to book, but rather, an ongoing narrative. And it will be in my own voice. As for the composing process/compost connection – what readers are going to discover is that shit happens, both on the page and in the animal pens.

Next: 12. 1/12/14: Dog Training: Rewards and Toy Drive