Writer’s Desk: Behind the Scenes

Every issue of the magazine is going to have a “Behind the Scenes” segment that analyzes some of the textual choices I made when writing the current section. Why do this?

As a text is being written, it is ever evolving, changing in little and big ways until it goes out the door. Some of these changes are necessary grammatical edits, but even adjusting for clarity changes the interpretation of a text. Other changes are aesthetic, such as tweaking dialogue to sound more or less authentic, which too influences the overall impression left by a text.

This is to say, these decisions are made with good intentions, but it’s uncertain the finalized text is any better than the text that was being used a week prior to finalization. Certainly by that time the grammar should be as clean as possible, so what’s changing is aesthetic. Yet the final text is held sacrosanct for critical purposes and the changes are disregarded.

Still, in virtually every case, we can only interpret the final text because the discarded bits are unavailable, except in certain editions of highly regarded novels. While the writing contained in Cosmic Vinegar may not warrant extensive study, I still want to provide a Behind the Scenes look into the construction of the text. This will help demystify the creative process, especially for people who don’t consider themselves writers or for people who perhaps doubt their own abilities. There is no right answer when creating a text. There are only final answers, valuable insofar as they have been weighed and considered. But so too have the discarded answers; they were weighed and considered before being rejected. While they don’t deserve to be included in the final text, I do think they deserve to be available for discussion.

At the end of the day, the goal of this project is to encourage discussion. About the finality of art, about the value of art, about the impacts of value on society. Perhaps going Behind the Scenes of this project is a mistake; but I’d prefer to find that out through failure than conjecture.

As a note, this idea hit me when I read this post by Allyson Rudolph.

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