Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Revision: The Long and Arduous Journey

Let's talk a bit about revising. Definition first.

                           Re = again
                         Vise = see or look, as in vision
                          -ion = a suffix that alters the form of the word to become a noun

            re + vis + ion = the process of seeing again

This is what revision is: not just rewriting or changing things around, but looking at your ideas and characters and story again, trying to see them in a new way.

Of course, this is simply not that easy.

When I have been writing--whatever, a story, a novel, a blog--for a long time, I cannot see it from any other perspective but my own. Revision often requires a separation of time or others' opinions.

Time and others are perhaps the two biggest keys to revision.

1. Time. If I have been staring at the same piece, I will not recognize even the most glaring spelling mistakes. Setting the piece aside for a week, a month, or even a year, allows for tremendous separation. Not only am I less emotionally involved with the piece, but I can look at the piece with new eyes. Huh. See newly?

2. Others. Sometimes I write and think I am being clever. This is rarely the case. When other people (my awesome blog group, the Indiana Writer's Center Members, to drop a few names) tell me that I'm missing the mark, I take a deep breath and ask me how to fix it. I'm stunned at how smart these people are.

Revision takes a certain amount of humility. Very, very few people write brilliantly on their first try, and the rest of us need to try again and struggle to make our ideas more cohesive and interesting.

And this, of course, takes revision.

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