Monday, September 20, 2010


I read The Omnivore's Dilemma a couple of weeks ago and am currently in the thick of another Michael Pollan book called In Defense of Food. I want to give him a high five. He takes something as complicated and absurd as the food industry in America and turns it into a journalistic reading adventure. He also helps the average person make better choices about what he/she consumes.

Reading about the problems in our food system got me thinking about some problems that I have in writing. I have been working on a short story for at least a month or two now, and it is still not finished. I realized the other day that what I had done was strip away all the good stuff from the original draft, and--like refining all of the nutrients out of flour and adding back artificial ones--I was trying to replace it with fake stuff that just wasn't as good.

I've heard it said that all the best writing is rewriting, but I don't think that's always true. I think it's important to keep some things in their original form; we have to be careful about what we consider "improvement." There is a point when we are just doing more damage.

The reader can tell when a story is fake or forced or when it was created organically.

So I put my story away for a while.

In the meantime, I've been working on a travel essay for YoMo YaMa, a local magazine put out by the JET Program in Nagano Prefecture. I'll be sure to link to it when it's up. I also randomly wrote a flash fiction story the other day that's almost finished. I love writing. I find it easier and easier to sit down and do it, and that's the hardest part.

I'll come back to my story in a couple of weeks and try to make it more fulfilling, more full of the good stuff that makes reading a pleasure (I hope that someone will take something away from the things that I write). The stories and books that I enjoy reading the most are the ones that leave me satisfied and nourished. I don't want to give people junk. People get enough of that.