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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, April 17, 2006

Revision-The Way of the Force

Revision—The Way of the Force

Lately my life has been a series of revisions, which I've begun to accept as part of a noble process, a sort of rite of passage. Perhaps it’s because I’m in a transition stage--husband retiring, children going off to college, moving--all the fun stuff at once.

In my effort to find balance amidst the chaos, I’ve come to the conclusion that periods of reflection and reevaluation are natural, even in stable times. I'm here to say that we should embrace these moments and give them our full attention and honest effort instead of rushing through them with the next hurdle in mind. Only when we‘ve had a chance to reflect and revise, we can move forward with the sense that we are on solid ground again.

It’s the Little Blue Engine sort of thinking we need to adopt. You know, I think I can, I think I can . . . We don’t drill this sort of thinking into our children’s brains without reason. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the good advice seems to be drowned out by phrases like, “Hurry up, slow-poke”, “The early bird catches the worm, and “Are we there yet?” Pretty soon we forget to reflect and revise because we are in such a hurry to keep up with the rocket scientists of the world.

Since I’m a writer, my thoughts on revision began there, then spread to the other corners of my life. Like gardeners expect weeds in the spring, we writers expect revisions, but naturally don’t welcome them. If you have a creative soul, you probably take the greatest part of your writing pleasure from the birth of a new story. The word REVISE may make you run for the cleaning supplies, any place but the computer. But I want to encourage you to add reflection, and yes, REVISION to your process.

First, what you’ll need is some distance from your story so you can gain objectivity. Then you’ll need to really love the characters as well as the dirt they walk on and want the story to succeed in the worst way. I’m encouraging you to be passionate about your revisions, passionate enough to murder your darlings!

Stephen King reminds us in his book, On Writing, that our job in the second draft (If you’re not Stephen, feel free to change the word “second” to “subsequent,” as in “many,” drafts down the road) is to make our work even more clear, which, of course, makes it more accessible to readers. And since our goal as writers is to communicate our thoughts, how can we let this part of the process slide when Stephen assures us that if we give it an honest effort, make the necessary changes, we will reap a more unified story? And, I might add, a story we have confidence in and feel passionate about.

So my new mantra is, embrace the process. Reflect and revise. It’s the Way of the Force—the path to knowledge and a fair shot at your dream—whatever it might be.

Lorelle



4 Comments:

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Lovely sentiments, as usual, Lorelle! You really got me thinking this morning.

I'm one of those who's MUCH happier revising what's been written than having to come up with the pages in the first place.

And now, thanks to your post, I realize this tendency spills into my personal life as well. I was the one teacher on my small high school campus who never wanted to teach the same subjects two years in a row. The woman who's always got a renovation project (or two, or three) going on at home. The person who has changed careers more than once in her life (and who's eager to see what comes next).

I used to wonder if I have a seriously deficient attention span. Now I can say "I'm revising."

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Well said, Lorelle. You've got me thinking too. In a few months I will have 3 of 4 children out of the house. My husband and I are having to reconnect, which hasn't been so easy. I agree that it's time to slow down and reflect and revise.

Theresa

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

I loved this line, Lorelle:

Like gardeners expect weeds in the spring, we writers expect revisions, but naturally don’t welcome them.

What a great analogy!

Diane

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

A good reminder to slow down and smell the roses, so to speak. It's hard to slow down and revise when you feel like time is passing by at the speed of light, but I know it's necessary.

 

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