writer in progress: you have the right to revise

Begin doing what you want to do now. ... We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand--and melting like a snowflake. -- Marie Bryon Ray

In writing, you can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but first you have to create the sow's ear. Your first draft is the sow's ear. -- Charles Parnell

There's no Muse of Epic Revising. But I say: This is where the real miracle takes place. -- Carole Burns

Revision: though it can be the never-ending bane of my existence, it's also one way that writing is better than real life. You get do-overs. A lot of them.

A lot.

How many times have I looked over my shoulder and thought: could I revise that conversation? That isn't what I meant to say. Or, alternately, I had the perfect reply on the tip of my tongue, but couldn't figure it out until just now...

So behold the constant, writerly pleasure of revising. The cut and paste. Select all and delete.

Welcome to the cutting room floor, the eraser smudges, the palimpsest.

The unending search for the perfect word.

If I may say so, I'm a pretty decent reviser. All you need, really, is enough dogged persistence to keep moving forward. That and an iron stomach: it can be a bit of a shock to tear up paragraphs, chapters, whole drafts.

Or maybe the key is this: loving the book it should be more than you love how it looks right this moment.

Maybe that's the real mindset that has galvanized me through four drafts of my main novel. There's a gem of a story buried in there somewhere; it's just taking me a long time to find it.

And yet: knowing this, knowing that I can revise and revise, knowing I can keep questioning the characters and the plot: it gives me courage to face new drafts. That's what got me through some truly horrible places (I have no idea what I'm doing!! And neither does my character!!) in my latest project.

That's where I get the guts to reopen last year's Nanowrimo novel. I'm pulling it out of storage and diving back into it tomorrow. Kind of fun, really, to work on its second draft while all the Nanowrimo writers fire up their engines.

I'm excited--really excited--to see all my characters' faces again, to see what I think of them, after a year apart. To listen to their voices. I can't wait to see how they'll grow in these next two months.

Revision. It's thrilling, isn't it? It's a chance to grow, to change your mind.

And in the spirit of that, the blog has had a facelift! Goodbye to Serif's Yarn Cafe: I haven't posted about our Etsy work or my adventures in knitting nearly enough to warrant that name. And yeah, while we all know yarn also means "narrative," the first thing I think of is, that stuff we all knit with. So it had to go. I still plan to post about Squirrel & Serif (we're posting fall stuff now! woo hoo!), but you know and I know that I'm mostly here to talk about books.

Books and other things. Coffee and pie. Writing and reading. This and that.

And you can't argue with the ampersand: it insists that good things go together.

So welcome to the revised blog: Welcome to The Ampersand Cafe.

1 comment:

  1. Love the new look! Best wishes as you start working again on your Nanowrimo project from last year.
    Regards, B.B. & friend