When you read second-year MAWP student Christopher L. Smith’s contemplation on the meaning of being “in process,” as a writer, you’ll find yourself contemplating along with him, and maybe discovering or rediscovering why you chose to be a writer or go to graduate school.
Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to be “in process” on certain aspects of my life. As a writer I’m always in process on different projects, some of which become something pretty good while others need to be deleted before the bad ideas can spread. The phrase “in process” is one that, as a writer, I kind of like because it’s something I can tell people who ask me about my writing (my Mom) that makes it sound like I’m getting a lot accomplished.
“Oh sure,” I say, “I’ve got a few projects I’m working on, but I can’t really talk about them because they’re ‘in process’ and they’re not really fully formed yet.”
It’s the best excuse to not open myself up to having someone tell me that the idea I’ve been working on for the past month is really horrible. Sometimes it can get discouraging working on projects that I really care about only to get stuck one evening and feel like I’m never going to complete it or get the idea just right. It usually takes me several drafts to get a piece working or at least to a place where I can accept it for what it is. I usually enjoy being in process on a piece of writing because, if all is going “right” it transforms into something really interesting over the multiple drafts that it goes through. Aside from being in process on writing, I’m also thinking about what it means to be “In Process” in life.
I was talking to a friend recently who is studying for her Master’s Degree in Sociology from UMKC, and the conversation came around to us discussing how we felt sometimes that school was just the same old, same old that we had been doing for years. We eventually came to the conclusion that we needed to acknowledge that we were doing something for ourselves that was a little more advanced than ‘just going to school’ because it was the next step in our lives. Our decision to attend graduate school was one that would broaden our education, but also position us to move forward in our future careers.
I think as we finals in a few weeks, it’s good to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we are in process on something important in our lives. Sometimes we get so focused on the deadlines that we forget that the act of becoming better educated in something that we are passionate about is an action that will hopefully move us towards achieving greater goals in our lives.
Sometimes when I look at my calendar I just see the due dates and stress about the many pages that I have to read for class or the pages that I haven’t written yet. As I’m writing this, I have a short story I’m trying to finish, a novel to read before my Thursday class, and several essays to review for class next week. As I dive into all of that, I know that I’m doing what I love. The beauty and frustration in creative writing is that so much of the process is working towards that end result: a project that will be complete and hopefully published for others to read. I think learning to love the process is a part of life. Life doesn’t have a page limit, but there are definitely markers along the way that we can use for personal reflection. Life is a process, and it may seem a simple realization to make, but I think celebrating the process every now and again is a worthy use of our time, especially as we work towards getting homework finished and passing tests.