Friday, November 21st, 2003
Over at Jason’s Blurty they’re discussing revision, a subject which grew out of a conversation in Creative Writing.
In my mind the real work of writing happens during revision and the metaphor for the process grew from M. Angelo per discussion. We mustn’t, however, take the metaphor too seriously. Nor should we take the 30 revision number as an absolute. No one knows how many revisions any given story will take until, of course, a story is done.
Learning to write stories, which is different from learning to tell them orally, has a lot to do with experience and lots of reading of the kinds of stories a writer enjoys writing. But revision is rule-less. All we know is that character and narrative force happen slowly in development. First comes the inspirational rush, then the detailed and slow rewriting for form. How many times to go over? Who knows. Intuitions claims as many times as necessary. Reason claims how many times? One story may demand many, others not so much.
Other than that I have no answers. I do know that self-perception can be powerfully deceptive. The writer teaches this: if you think that one thing is right and proper, you’re most likely wrong. Whatever is believed true should be held with the greatest skepticism (translation: if you believe the story is done, you’re wrong). This is not my idea though: it’s Hugh’s. If you can live with this, then write. If not, then fill your down time building model cars.
Remember the arialists.