Jeanette Kaplan

Jeanette Kaplan

Before pen hits paper or fingers strike keyboard, I am writing in my mind. I spend a lot of time thinking and composing mentally. I search for an entry point into the task. What do I think? What do I want to say? And is it worth saying? Can I stand writing about this idea for a long, long time? In the most academic of terms, I suppose I am searching for a thesis, but that sounds so dry, so uninspired. I mull. I marinate. I meander until I reach the point where a looming deadline finally forces me to commit some thoughts to paper, and then that part of the writing process begins.

In general, for academic writing, I know it takes me about an hour per page to produce something I am reasonably happy to call final. I allot about half an hour for a report card narrative, a couple hours for a recommendation. For less formal tasks, like journaling or reading responses or emails, I just open that book or that document and go.

Can architecture be a metaphor? All the mental exercise is necessary because I need to have a vision of what I am producing and a blueprint to get me there. Architecture is linear and structural, but it can appear beautiful and organic. I find I need the structure of an idea fleshed out mentally before I can launch into the prose (or poetry) to communicate that idea. Once the bones of the idea have come together, I find I can loosen up and let the beauty of language guide me to make pretty and palatable those ideas. I like the sounds of words, the candence of sentences. And ironically once I know the target of my words, I let the language loose and let it surprise me.

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