D is for… Drafting

Not draughts as in the chill winds which sweep through even the most well-insulated of Meeting Houses (when someone sitting near the window has a hot flash), but drafts as in draft minutes and draft epistles, or indeed draft blog posts.

As the minute writer to a Quaker business meeting, whether as co-convenor or assistant clerk or similar, the offering of a draft is an important part of the process. Sometimes it’s right at the beginning of the process: we take something on a draft minute prepared before the meeting, and that’s just a matter of reading out the draft and waiting to see whether it’s acceptable. More often, though, in a complex deliberation, a clerk will write and offer a draft minute having heard many pieces of ministry or voices in discussion.

I find that in order to make the changes to a minute which a meeting requests, as fast as possible and as well as possible, it is necessary to let go of any attachment I have to the draft minute. If it’s someone else’s pre-prepared draft, that’s no problem. If it’s not an interesting draft, if I haven’t tried to be clever, it’s not too hard. I trip up sometimes when I have worked to choose the best word or the best phrase, to encapsulate what I heard as if I were writing poetry, and someone objects to a part I thought was good.

In other kinds of writing, one has time and space to deal with that process at leisure: to copy and paste sentences your editor didn’t like into a file called ‘save for later’, or to forget which parts of this chapter you particularly liked, so that you aren’t disappointed when they need chopping or changing or footnoting. In writing a minute, the changes are made live, so that the new draft of the minute can be read to the meeting.

I’m not an experienced clerk, but when I realise that I’m tripping over such things, I try and pray: Spirit, you have guided my pen and this draft is my service to you; it is yours and the changes we make are yours; may we end up with a minute which is true, and accurate, and sufficient.

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3 responses to “D is for… Drafting

  1. Like other forms of ministry, drafting minutes comes, at best, through us, not just from us, and the acceptance of letting go is vital. I was once advised ‘always be prepared to cross out your draft minute and start again’.

  2. Draft minutes can really help the process but certainly have to be let go of. I think what I find most dispiriting as a clerk is when the meeting just accepts what I have written ( or even praises it!) and questions nothing!

  3. Pingback: J is for… Jargon | Brigid, Fox, and Buddha

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