Feel good feedback on shitty first draft

Hi Irma!

Dang, there are certainly some fascinating insights and sentiments in here. You pose some interesting quesions and concepts, reader VS. writer, writer of books VS. persona on social media, I love meta-essays about writing and this sentence I very much related to and I burst out laughing:

Me doing a course writing an essay probably ends up in an essay about me doing a course writing an essay.

You used some amazing images, my favorite was the Escher stair case, and I think you could even open with that, and perhaps end with it as well.

I think the issue with the essay as a whole right now is you’re trying to capture TOO much so it feels stretched in all these different directions, which can be GREAT in a personal essay but it’s not quite hanging together right now and jumps around in a jarring way. I suggest you think of three themes to write towards, so that when you veer off track, you can ask yourself if what you’re adding in speaks to one of your three themes. If it doesn’t, cut it.

Being afraid of being a reader VS a writer when one wants to be a writer I think is more common than we know, and sort of taboo to talk about, so I love that idea and would like to see it developed.

Right now the Rebecca Solnit aspect, though very interesting, feels out of place. i suggest either adding more authors/writers you admire or making this a personal essay/review ON Rebecca Solnit and The Faraway Nearby. There’s a column I love called LET ME TELL YOU WHAT YOUR BOOK IS ABOUT, which I highly encourage you to read. I can see you doing something similar if you decide to go in that direction. 

In the first reading I gave the class, the BRAIDED essay was explained, where you take three aspects and weave them throughout your essay. I’d love to see you choose three concepts and attempt doing that. Another helpful tool can be to ask yourself a question like: What is it to be a reader VS a writer? And attempt to answer that Q in your essay.

Something you did really well is use varied lengths of sentences and paragraphs, which I’m always nagging my students to do.

Lovely stuff here, excited to see where it goes.

Hi Irma!

I love how you begin this essay with a sense of action like flying on a plane and sailing on a boat. It sounds like that is in relation to your love of reading and fear of writing? As if for you, writing is like flying, something you have a fear of, and reading is like a romantic sailing voyage.

This is a really nice first draft because you have so many ideas that still relate to your personal philosophy. I love the part where you write about reading Rebecca Solnit on Facebook, how she makes you feel physically and how you justify even the parts of her writing that make you feel uncomfortable. I understand what Chloe suggested and I don’t disagree, but I like how you laid out your feelings there.

Your paragraph that starts, “There’s simply a lot going on in the world…” is relatable for me, and I like the way you continue in an overwhelmed poetic voice, I feel is very effective.

I think you could edit out some of the reference to other authors. A few are great, and I like them, but I feel like you lost me in the middle. Maybe try and whittle it down to just two examples and really make them pop for your analogy. Or add more and make them a focus but having them speckled throughout does seem dis-jointed.

Also, if you talk about being a reader and a passionate observer, I’d love to hear some examples of that. Spoon feed me what you see, hold my hand and walk me through the moment with your keen eye. Tell me more about how it makes your body feel when you are watching someone or something, tell me about what it does to Irma. I think this way you can draw a reader into seeing the world in the way you do which is colorful, thoughtful and philosophical. Great first draft! I’m looking forward to more!


Your voice has such a unique thumbprint. Not everyone can get away with such abstract sentence structure without sounding akward or contrived, but in your writing it feels natural and believable. I was hearing you the whole time, and your English was not an issue. 

You covered a lot of ground, which left me disoriented at times, but your strengths carried me forward, wanting to hear what kind of idea you were going to throw down next. 

Some of my favorite highlights: the canning metaphor (the assembly line gets quickly jammed) the dried flower metaphor, the Escher staircase, writing an essay about your essay writing course. 

I found the bit on Solnit’s FB page funny, and personally, I felt that it supported the central theme of the writer afraid of not being a writer. That theme hooked me from the beginning. Don’t most writers question themselves as writers in some way? LOTS of juice in that berry. I encourage you to squeeze it to the last drop, and let it guide you in deciding which parts of this draft stay, and which go. 

On that note, I felt like the section on your ex took me out of the piece. It served the purpose of introducing the idea of the “strange loop,” but it went on to the point where it started to feel like a different story altogether.

The title is intriguing. I hoped for it embedded in a sentence, or alluded to otherwise.

The peripheral theme of the effect of the internet on the writer is also intriguing.

Overall, I see a lot of potential in this first draft. I loved so much about this piece that by the end I found myself genuinely looking forward to reading more of your work.