I went to graduate school in an extremely rainy place, where despite the wet, I walked almost everywhere. One morning, while caught in another February rain shower — drip-drops pattering on my nose and cheeks, tapping out a rhythm on my hooded head — I sang my “first draft” of I Like the Rain. I sang it all the way to school.
I think of I Like the Rain as my longest shortest manuscript because this 125 word piece has existed in one form or another (song, free verse poem, rhyming poem, rhyming story) for something like sixteen years now.
Like lots of writing teachers, I often tell my students that writing is a process. Because my students are English language learners, they sometimes think that writing is only a process for them — that if only their English were better, they could write things “right” the first time.
At these moments, I like to pull out my file folder of I Like the Rain drafts. Pinned across a wide classroom wall, my longest shortest manuscript always proves the point. Writers write. But more importantly, writers rewrite . . . and rewrite and rewrite . . .
My students are always a little bit mystified. Poor teacher, I can almost hear them thinking. She has to try so hard.
One student worries aloud. “Do we have to write so many times?”
“Well, no,” I say. “But let’s write two or three drafts.”
A collective whew travels the room.
“Wow,” someone finally says. “You REALLY like the rain.”
I can’t help laughing. “Yes,” I say, “I really do.”