Writer’s Writing

This post originally appeared on my tinyletter, Where is my Mind?

My daughter got her ADHD diagnosis. It was a relief, for her, just to know. We’re still working on finding the right medication, but we’re moving in the right direction, getting where we need to be.

She’s started writing. Really writing. It started with her friends writing collaborative fan fic in google docs, and then she moved on to write her own fairy tales. Now, she’s using an app on her phone that “publishes” chapters of stories and pushed them out to readers who are also on the app (IDK, youtube for writers, I guess). She proudly announced that 134 people had read her first chapter, that 80 had “liked” it and one person even commented that she needed to keep writing it because it was so good.

So she did. She waited patiently for her chapter to be approved (moderated!) and then waited for the stats to show up. All she needed was one person to read and like it, and she was over the moon. “They told me they couldn’t wait for the next chapter!”

What I wouldn’t have done for something like that when I was her age. We were limited to writing fan-fic on my friend’s Mac, the only one of our friends who had a computer, at sleepovers. I kept notebooks (I still have those notebooks) filled with stories, abandoned novels, poems, stories, scenes.

I remember that feeling of my first time being “published” – a poem I wrote was selected for the Honor Board, where exemplary work from across the elementary school was put up on a central board at the school. Then, later, I started writing copy and press releases for my small swim team, and they appeared in the local newspaper. No by-line, but we all knew I had written it.

I remember the thrill of starting my blog, of seeing the page views go up, of seeing it be RT’ed on Twitter, of people engaging me because of my writing. If I hadn’t been hooked on writing before (I was), there was no going back for me after that moment, almost a decade ago.

My daughter also just finished her first major essay at her new school. Unfortunately it was a 5-paragraph essay, but she nonetheless devised her own thesis (pandas need protection, and here’s why), did her own research (no MLA formatting, but it was done), and made her arguments compelling and convincing. She finished it in a week. She had a month. It started out being 600 words, and then ballooned to over 800 words and she edited it over the next three weeks, taking stuff out, rewording things, and adding more evidence.

Folks, I can barely get my undergrads to write 750 words.

I keep telling her, it’s good that you’re editing. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for changing your work over and over again. This is what real writers do – they edit. No great work has ever been written in one draft.

Please learn what I never did.

I’m currently editing (or rather working with editors) on two completed manuscripts, and working with an editor on writing another one. I’ve been edited by friends, I’ve been edited by strangers, I’ve been edited by the Internet at large (which…ugh), and I’ve been edited by my students once in a developmental writing class. But I still can’t edit myself. Not really.

I have to say, when an editor tells me that what I wrote resonated and that they want to read more, as well as make it the best it can be, well, I’m over the moon about it. It makes me want to keep writing.

I write. Maybe my daughter will write and edit. Maybe she can edit my work.

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