Revision party-hardy

Saturday April 05, 2008 @ 08:42 PM (UTC)

“Revision isn’t cleaning up after the party, revision is the party.” — William Matthews

The quote above is well-distributed in writing circles. When it was last passed back to me, by my current advisor, I remembered the shape of it, worn smooth and familiar by many fingers. I also suddenly recognized it as very true.

In this grad school adventure of mine, I’ve changed as a person, and gotten to know myself a lot better. I’ve also written a lot. With the exception of the microfictions with which this site is peppered, I had only written three short stories when I entered the program. Three. I’m now running about twelve, not counting microfictions and stories I’m not sure will work out. And yes, I love to write. I like messing with stories, being able to fall asleep daydreaming and call it work, stealing a moment or an image and making it into something of my own. But revision? Revision is pure play.

Creating for the first time is self-conscious work, full of doubt and soldiering on through the frustration. When you revise, you know you have something. You may not know what it is, but its promise is as physically present as a weight you roll in your hands. You feel you’ve accomplished something, even as you try to figure out what. I love revising.

And this is the season of revision. I graduate in a few months. My thesis needs to be ship-shape to embark on the library shelves, and besides those stories, I find myself itching to revisit, revamp and renovate others. In between nervous trips to big-box bookstores (my first publication will be out soon, but I don’t know the precise date) I find myself remembering this story I laid aside first semester, or even my third short story ever, which I wrote for the application process. I imagine new paths into them, look at them from far off and try to squint out their shapes. Yesterday I made a list of firm to-dos and wishful goals for April. The first word on about half of the entries? “Revise.”


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