Sunday, November 18, 2012

Process Writing

            I’m going to be honest here; the one part of Food and Travel Writing I loved and loathed most was my restaurant review. I had so much fun eating at Lee’s Garden and I couldn’t wait to write my review. I sat down with my reporter’s notebook, satisfyingly stained with food and barley tea, and started to write. I loved every second of the writing process. I worked so hard to evoke all the right things with each word and referenced my notes from class with each new paragraph. I read my review, changed some things, and posted it to my blog. I was so proud.

            My confidence came crashing down during workshop. Whether these were Marin’s exact words or not, what I heard was, “Lovely description, but this review says nothing.” I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong and I never wanted to look at my review or go to Lee’s Garden again. I revised my review, second guessed my revisions, changed them some more, and asked two close friends, my dad, and my boyfriend for feedback. I obsessed over when I should press print and accept a finished product. I think I completely overreacted.

            The ultimate satisfaction came when I got my review back. It was the most dramatic moment for me: standing in the parking lot of the restaurant I’d reviewed, after eating there with my professor and classmates and wondering if they felt the same way I felt about the dishes we ate. I clung to my Styrofoam cup of barley tea—I couldn’t have been more anxious. I pulled on the corner of my paper and felt the biggest sigh of relief. It all turned out okay.

            I didn’t torture myself over my restaurant review revision because I’m crazy and grade-obsessed. I agonized and fixated because I cared so much about writing a good review and being taken seriously. Food and Travel Writing meant so much to me as a writer and student. With Jane Kramer’s “The Reporter’s Kitchen,” I was hooked on the idea of writing about food and I wanted this class to help me figure out if I could feasibly make a career out of my writing.

            Though my restaurant review was the biggest roller coaster ride I took this quarter, my writing process for other assignments followed similar trajectories. I started out filled with joy and passion for each assignment, wrote with enthusiasm, felt proud of my work, posted it nervously, grew more and more excited to revise during workshop, nitpicked over revisions, and wanted a nap after submitting final copies. Every writing assignment, reading, and discussion left me hungry.

            I learned so much about my writing during this course and I think I finally found a voice. This was a huge breakthrough for me. Though I was consistently frustrated with my apparent temperature fixation, I loved learning about my writing personality. With the help of my friends, professor, and classmates, I discovered my faults: I repeat words too much when I write first drafts, my opinion isn’t always clear, and I struggle with creating tension, but I can work with that! In this class, I learned that my work doesn’t have to be perfect the first time as long as I’m up for revising it.

I’m most proud that I found a writing voice and I unearthed a love for writing and reading about food during this course. So what if that voice is a little too cheery sometimes and repeats a few words? I’m going to focus on bettering my style as much as I can and as soon as I can, but I’m also going to appreciate my writing process for what it is right now. I plan to learn more about food, cook over break, and write about almost everything I eat. Lasting change takes time.

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