“I love revision. Where else can spilled milk be turned into ice cream?” –Katherine Paterson
I love to revise! No. Really. I do. For me, the knowledge that I can start with an okay story and gradually make it better,
and then better still…
….well, it’s a very freeing notion.
If I knew ahead of time that every word that I wrote had to stand forever, as if written in stone, I would be afraid to pick up a pen or sit down at a computer. Wouldn’t you?
On the other hand, knowing that I’m just writing words on paper and that I can change those words however and whenever I want helps me to take a more lighthearted approach to revising. I can take a writing risk on the bare hunch that it will make my story better. And if it doesn’t? No big deal. All I lost is a little time. And if it succeeds? Well, I’m that much farther ahead in the revision process
Here’s the thing about revision. Sometimes I don’t know if something will work until I try it. But I do know that, even if it doesn’t work, all it cost me was ink, paper, time and courage. And of course, the longer I write, the more courage I have because I understand what a luxury revision really is. Revision gives a writer the endless opportunity to start over. And, when you think about it, there aren’t too many pursuits in life where we get that opportunity. Where we have the incredible freedom to keep doggedly, determinedly and, I hope, joyfully at it until we feel that we have it exactly as we want it.. Revision isn’t a curse, as some of my middle school students believed. It is a gift. Embrace it.