“Hard disk: the letter I remembered as embarrassing is OK after all. I must have revised it just before sending. I never confuse what I dreamed with what I actually did, but this is different: which draft am I?” – James Richardson’s “Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays from Vectors 3.0″
I read that poetic aphorism today and it made me sit there for a while. Which draft am I?
If I, Lauren Deidra, am a written story, which draft am I? Or am I an essay, an attempt, who will never reach perfection?
I look at how different I am now than I was freshman year. The essence of me is the same. I am always, like Rabbit, searching for something. That something is usually God, or an aspect of God; no matter what, I’m searching.
I am always a dreamer. I am always ambitious and full of ideas. But still, I am a completely different draft than I was freshman year. I was scared and innocent. I was vain and enthusiastic.
I both love and hate the process of revision. Part of me loves it. I like re-envisioning what’s already on paper. What if I change points of view? What if I move this around? What if I make this minor character into a major character? What if I cut this scene out altogether?
Another part of me hates it. Dude, I wrote this stupid thing already. Why add/cut/change anything?
I am a perfectionist insofar as I don’t have to do anymore work. I’m a perfectionist insofar as it keeps being fun.
Sometimes I answer those typical college/grad school entrance essays just to test myself – just in case The Seattle School were to ask me, What has challenged you the most in college?
The answer is very simple for me. It’s always on the tip of my tongue: leading the Sojourn.
Why? Well, I know in many ways I am fit for the job, but in others, I’m not. I am not the best writer on staff. I’m not the best editor. I’m not the strongest leader. I don’t know the most about newspapers or media law. I just happened to be on staff the longest and wanted the job the most.
I wonder which draft I am on.
I remember the grading scale for essays in my AP Language course. A nine was the best, an “excellent” paper. My classmates and I always shot for eights and nines on our practice essays. A six was the one I dreaded the most, it was the grade I always received. It’s hard not to know you’re getting a five or lower; you have to expect it. No one writes that poorly without knowing a bad grade’s coming. But a six?
Sixes were the grade you got when you thought your essay was good, but it wasn’t. You didn’t argue your point well enough. A metaphor or creative technique you used failed.
The description for six called the paper “workmanlike.” I’ll never forget that: “workmanlike.” I get that. There’s a striving behind those letters. There’s an effort put forth that’s so visible to the reader. It looks like you’re trying to be cool. It looks like you’re trying to sound smart.
Sometimes I feel like everything I do is workmanlike. You can just tell I’m not fit for what I’m doing. I put forth a good effort, but in reality, I’m only one point away from doing poorly.
In a few months I’m going to start a new life for myself in a far away city – inshallah. I get to start a new draft, inevitably.
I’m thinking about which parts of me I want to take with me. I think there are aspects of an earlier draft of myself, maybe freshman year Lauren, that I’d like to take with me.
I used to really want to be a world changer. I used to pray that God would make me into who He wants to me to. And though those things are still true to me, I don’t think they’re quite on the forefront of my mind. Because, Who cares? There are bigger things to worry about.
I hope, more than anything, that I begin a new draft, a draft that’ll shape me into a better woman. I’d like to meet new qualities about myself. I’d like to be a draft I can recognize as unfinished, but still worthwhile.