So, yesterday Jlly brought up the topic I love to hate: Revision.
Truth is, no writer can pen the perfect sentence on the first try, much less the entirety of a short story, poem, or novel. It’s impossible. Truth is, revision is as much an art as storytelling, and it’s probably the number one killer of would-be authors.
“The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” — Neil Gaiman
When I first read this bit of genius by the genius himself, I screamed at the page, WELL WHO THE BLOODY HELL HAS THE PATIENCE FOR THIS SORT OF THING, NEIL!
Then I wrote a few (brief) fictional tales, put them away for years (only because I got busy and distracted, not because I suddenly developed the patience of a true genius), and I wrote more things. By the time I sat down to read through those stories again, and was quite comfortable with the idea of rewriting them, only a few paragraphs of the originals were recognizably salvageable. Being that I had recently revised, reorganized, and submitted a fifty-plus page poetry manuscript, I thought this project wouldn’t be all that bad.
“It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and write it sentence by sentence — no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I can change seven.” — Dorothy Parker
Well, bless her, ’cause I never got past two months of doing that very blasted thing. Those darling characters of mine that whispered their names, their fears, and their greatest loves to me in the dark, could not withstand such mathematical impossibilities. Revision killed my darlings, I didn’t have to. Here’s what I’ve noticed: I have a much deeper patience with poetry than with fiction.
I can write fiction, I just can’t make it good. – darlinleo
Have y’all noticed a marked difference in your revision skills (and intestinal fortitude) being dependent on genre? Is it possible to overcome such writerly adversity? Tell me all about it.
Hello and welcome to Brigit’s Flame, new followers! We look forward to reading you soon.
Congrats to Jlly & Bluegerl for tying up the game this week! New arrivals to the Flame: never fear, y’all can still read and comment on the stories offered up for Act I, the links are still open.
And! It’s not too late to share your writing for the second week of our April contest! Entries for Act II are due Sunday night. #gowrite, y’all.