Writing: the Short and the Long of Nonfiction Forms


The past week has seen a shift in my writing. I no longer wish to write pretty little 800-word stories about pretty little houses. I wish for more depth. I have for a while, though I’ve lacked the concentration for it. Or, as my favorite grad school professor used to tell me, I lacked the focus.
Even my reading has changed. Today, whether reading The Atlantic Monthly or a David Rakoff book, I see structure. It occurs to me that I got mired in the details of writing up until now, and now I see the forest rather than those pesky individual trees. Hopefully this difference in reading and writing could be construed as a sign of maturity. That same professor did frequently say, ‘No one takes you seriously until you’re forty.’ I’m only three years before that.
Today I have the focus and concentration and desire to write a book. I began my first book in January, and lat week I started my second book. They’re on vastly different topics and each will take a while to complete. But gracious what a difference it makes to find a structure. It begins with an idea, blooms with an outline, and blossoms with the focus of filling in the pieces between. This structure allows for my concentration and focus.
(So does staying off Twitter and Facebook, the purpose of both I only scarcely and only periodically find. Insert your own commentary here about the brevity of these outlets versus the longevity of outlets such as full-length books.)

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