|Blue Ridge Mountains III (M.A. Reilly, 2009)|
This morning I withdrew an article that required some revision before being published. Originally the article was 12,000 words and I whittle it down to about 8,000 at the insistence of the editors who have been patient and the peer reviewers who have been somewhat helpful. And although I have never not returned a manuscript that was accepted or accepted with revisions prior to this morning, I did so today.
With Rob's care and my responsibilities, priorities shift and time feels far more constrained. I do plan to revise the essay again as I want to see it finished and see what it is I must learn. I realize though that presently such work will need to wait as I just do not have the clarity of thought to write academically and I know that this work is far from done.
I don't know what I most want to say and so I have said a lot of things not worth reading. As John Cage might say, "I have nothing to say" and unfortunately I am saying it (over and over). I do realize that there is something there that is important and I am missing it, for now.
I think about this authorial freedom to wade into a work or set it aside and think about my son in high school where such options are rarely afforded, if ever. Yes, I am confident his teachers would make exceptions for him especially now as he struggles with all that is happening at home--but the agency would reside with his teachers to a larger extent and that is highly problematic--especially for writers, thinkers, doers.
Good writing requires thought.
Better writing requires agency.
Agency is more important than the myriad of lessons taught via mini lessons, focus lessons, workshop lessons and the like. The right to determine the trajectory of a work is a large part of the writing. I wonder where that happens at school in these days of Common Core, non-organic workshops, and those units of study that come pre-made, written for teachers to enact as if teachers and students were interchangeable cogs. This is the very definition of being colonized.
Hopefully there is some young writer in some US classroom testing his or her agency, helping the teacher to understand that the more important lesson is one we do not teach directly.