Read, then Write – A case study

My advisor in my MFA program uses this as his mantra. I liked it when he first mentioned it, thought it was catchy, but as the semester comes to an end, I’ve come to appreciate it more.

One of my assigned texts for the spring is “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” This book was written by the editor of the French edition of Elle Magazine. He had a stroke at age 43, and became a victim of locked in syndrome — he was completely paralyzed except for being able to blink one of his eyes. His brain continued to function perfectly. So, he began to dictate a memoir from his bed, with the help of an assistant, one letter at the time.

In addition to making me re-imagine what a nightmare really is, the book is beautifully written and has a wonderful economy of words and nice use of language. It seems like in every place, the right word is chosen, carefully considered and then recorded on the page. And so it goes with revision.

This book will stick with me as one of those “Read, then Write” examples. I have two CNF essays to complete in the next week, and I’ll be carefully organizing and constructing both of them. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.