Friday’s Essay – Is This Writing?

Editing PenI am currently working on a nice little project.  I would call it ‘curriculum writing’.  However, I haven’t really ‘written’ a lot yet.  So far, perhaps it’s more like ghost writing or editing or reformatting.  I have a program that someone in Ottawa has already conducted with a group of people.  I was asked to turn it into a curriculum.  So far, I’ve taken the original author’s words, directions, ideas, etc. and reformatted them as a curriculum.  I’ve come up with learning objectives. I’ve devised a standard format for each session.  I’ve clarified some of the activities.  I have come up with some extra activities that will enhance the experience of taking this program.  I will probably actually write a few things for the new sessions and activities that I’ve imagined.  I’ve learned from the person who commissioned my writing that she’s not entirely happy with the direction I’ve taken.  We’re meeting do discuss the curriculum.  I will likely have to re-write, re-organize and adapt what I’ve already started and envisioned. So, is this writing?  Is writing for someone else writing?  Of course it is.  Writers do it all the time.  Apparently, real writers – who make their living at writing – write a lot of stuff for other people.  I guess the question is this:

Is editing, re-writing and re-organizing writing?

Well, of course it is.  Everyone knows that the first draft of anything is crap – complete and total crap.  Which is why I have to gather up my poems and breathe new life into them.  I guess I would equate this ‘after-first-draft’ process to sculpture.  Even though I’ve never sculpted anything but odd clay things in a couple of art classes.  No matter! I am a writer, so I will imagine what a sculptor does!  I imagine the first draft is like the first few chisel whacks (and I imagine that is the technical term).  The sculptor sees what his piece will be, but its really not there yet.  Subsequent drafts require editing – more chisel whacks, and smaller, refining chisel whacks.  Finally, the smoothing and polishing – terms that apply well enough to both artforms.  I’m sure there are middle bits (another technical term) that are equally important.  Writers tend to workshop (is that really a verb?) their stuff – reading at open mic nights, having friends and relatives read draft after draft after draft.  I don’t know if sculptors and painters do that.  In any event, writing for someone else forces all the editing, re-writing, polishing and smoothing.  Possibly in ways the writer doesn’t like.  Well, tough cookies. The writer’s skill at stringing words together, re-arranging them, and doing it all over again is the only important part of writing for others.  The vision, direction and final product belongs to the person who commissioned the work.

So, what is my point?  I think my point is this – if I’m serious about being a writer I may have to hustle a bit and write stuff other people want.  If it allows me to write, that’s awesome!  If it puts some money in my bank account, that’s extra awesome!  Now, to figure out how to get into that game!