THE JOYS OF REVISION
by Charles Coe
Some avid readers who’ve never tried to write think their heroes just crack their knuckles, sit down and out pours an uninterrupted stream of perfect, sparkling poetry or prose.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The serious writer knows it usually takes multiple drafts to cross the finish line. One often sees fledgling wordsmiths in workshops who’ve white knuckled their way through one draft, thought they were “finished,” and were horrified at suggestions that the piece might need work. (“But, but…I
meant to write it that way!”)
The first draft is almost always a beginning, not an ending. So if you’re a serious writer you sigh, yank on the hip boots and wade through that next draft. (And maybe another one or two after that.)
But when the piece is finally ready to share with the world, your readers won’t see the struggle. They’ll never know there were moments you almost wished you’d taken up ferret racing instead of writing. They experience the same pleasure and excitement reading it that you felt the moment you were sorting laundry and the idea for the piece first popped into your head.
That’s a piece of magic that that never fails to humble and astonish, and it’s well worth the effort. So don’t get bummed when an editor or teacher or classmate says, “I don’t think it’s quite there.” Go eat a pint of chocolate ice cream or take a run with the dog to clear your head. Then get back to work.
And remember: Writers never retire. They just revise…