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in which I think about writing

February 4, 2006

I came to law school because I wanted to write. I think I’ve mentioned that here before, but I’m putting it out there again, just for the record. Writing is something I’ve always been good at, though I’ve never been all that prolific. I always seemed to have trouble coming up with something to write about. First, I’m no creative writer or poet–I missed the make-up-a-story gene. And while I love writing essays, I’ve always had trouble getting started without a prompt.

So law school, I thought, would be great for me. Prompts aplenty, what with all the legal issues in the world that I find interesting. And structure, too! I really thought writing in law school would be easy for me. Not that I wouldn’t have to learn the specifics of “legal” writing, but that once I figured out the formats and expectations, I’d just be able to jump in.

It’s not like that.

For the first time in a long while, I have a prompt, I have structure, and I even have a dozen good arguments/ideas to discuss in a paper, but the words are coming slowly. Each one is struggle. My progress is halting at best.

Time was I’d’ve thought this was a bad sign, a sign that I was going about things the wrong way or that I just didn’t know enough about my subject to be able to get the words going. I don’t believe that anymore, because I can look at what I’ve been able to put on paper so far and see that it’s good. It’s not great, it needs editing, it needs tightening, but it’s good. Still, what slow going it’s been!

This is sort of transformative for me, looking at writing as something that’s not always accompanied by an outpouring. Rather, it’s a careful craft that is sometimes stalled, sometimes halting, sometimes painful–and when it is those things, it can still be good.

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