This piece positively resonated with me when drafting my first essay. William Stafford's observations on the creative writing process are simple, unpretentious and free of the typical academia jargon I find when exploring even the simplest subjects of writing. Upon closer reading, there is something much more penetrating in "A Way of Writing," in which Stafford tells us of a writing process that has brought "him a whole succession of unforeseen stories, poems, essays, plays, laws, philosophies" (16).
On the surface, Stafford describes, in a relatable and easy to understand scheme, a series of actions he has cultivated and come to understand as essential to his personal creative process. He launches into this writing by way of introducing the importance of receptivity, wherein he "will accept anything that occurs" (17) despite the fact that it may be little more than "an immediate impression" (17). He illustrates this by comparing receptivity to fishing, adding that no concern can be had for standards or failure, which naturally catapult him to "spin out things on the page" (17). Stafford expresses this wherein we do not "plan what we are going say" (18) to friends in casual conversation, and yet, are rarely hampered by lack of what to say. This paper is inspirational upon first meeting, however these concepts will quickly become simplistic, even boring, when met repeatedly. After a close reading, examination of word choice, application of context and background, the true breadth of this essay is revealed.
What was unwritten, but important to understand is William Stafford, who was born in 1914, graduated from college with a BA in 1937, and was drafted into the US Armed Forces in 1941, while pursuing his Master's degree (Poetry Foundation). It was from here until 1946, he would become a part of an important collective of men, who would begin a generation of free thinkers when he became a conscientious objector during World War II.