Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Process (and the Meaning of It All)

Jules, at 7-Imp, has tossed out a brief and burning question to writers. At the Southern Festival of Books, she heard Rosemary Wells say:

"Process doesn't exist. Any good writer will tell you that."

Naturally, she's curious as to what other writers think. I can't speak for everyone, but this is a glimpse into my brain when I hear something like that:

"Process doesn't exist. Any good writer will tell you that."

Writers don't exist. Any good process will tell you that.

Existence doesn't write. Any good teller can process that.

Doesn't existence process? Any writer will tell you that.

Process exists for good. Will you tell any writer that?

Write and don't tell process. That's good for existence.

Yeah, Rosemary's right. No one should admit to a process like that.

P.S. TadMack also gave her "£.02 centavos" about this, at Finding Wonderland. Go read! Oh, and Liz chimed in too, and I LOVE her answer: Process is a Verb. For more writers' opinions, go to the original post at 7-Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Good stuff.


  1. Ah, the Meaning of It All. I love it when I can come here and you explain that all to me.

    Process is so personal, don't you think? Not personal as in, "None of your beeswax," but personal as in you like bagels (if you do) and I like oatmeal.

    But I think you and I can both agree that coffee is an integral part of our writing process. Cheers, Coffee Buddy.

  2. If I become an author, can I drink more coffee -- and with you two?

    I've already said this, but I love this post.

  3. Glad you bought my "explanation" Robin. And I agree on the personal. I think the reason we DO write is to figure out what we truly think, and that is as unique as each person.

    jules: I have the biggest latte in the world waiting for you, if you decide to join Robin and I in our craziness.

  4. I work at a school for the arts and our unofficial motto is "It's not the product, it's the process." For students who continually focus on the product and not the journey that helps them arrive at the end product, process is a hard concept to understand. Yet, for those learning their craft and for those who really want to enjoy their craft, I personally think that process is everything.

  5. OK, Sara? BRILLIANT. I looooove this. I just wrote my own response, too, but not nearly so witty, I fear:


  6. Thanks, Liz. I'll run over right now in my jammies and read it.

    And welcome Deb! I agree that the relationship between process and product is extremely tricky. Everyone wants something to show for their hard work and so we value product. And of course, it IS valuable. After all, I wouldn't want my favorite authors or artists to say: Sorry, no more books or paintings!

    But each product is also a record of our process in making it, and the act of making it changes us, too. How great that you get to work with students who are discovering all this!

  7. Oh you are SO inside my head. That's MY process too. And I'll even cop to it.

    I have to go compose a process post of my own now.

    And for what it's worth, every book has a different proces for me.

  8. Not to come off sounding like the cranky old man who has literally slept only 7 hours in the last three days (weird insomnia), but what makes Rosemary Wells think she can speak on behalf of good writers?

    Good work, Sara.

  9. I read her comment, then I read it again, then I massaged my forehead and reread it -- and yep, it still said the same thing. I'm betting that Ms Wells was tired and in need of a sit down or a break. Or maybe a quiet cup of coffee. This sounds like one of those comments made while Under the Influence in decades past, everybody nodding and treating the words as pearls of wisdom.

    Process is alive and kicking! I believe in the product, but the process is what the product's all about. Without a process that one has honed into something very personal, like a tool that fits only one's own hand, the product will never see the light of day.

  10. Ha--like your twisted process. Quotes like Wells' remind me of why I *always* preface presentations with, "These are just my opinions and what works for me. There are lots of ways to write, and every writer will have different suggestions. Just use what you think might work for you and ignore the rest."


  11. Ah... coffee is process? Yeah, I'm with that.


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