At its most basic, revision is seeing anew.
Revision is the complicated, profound work of creation—
an act that simultaneously creates within and through the creator.
Revision changes the writer, deepens the writer’s work,
and infuses that work with the potential to move readers.
Revision addresses our innermost longings.
At its core, revision is the spiritual practice of transformation—
of seeing text, and therefore the world, with new eyes.
Done well, revision returns us to our original love.
– Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
I had been silent for a while…again. And again, work on the memoir had been shelved for an equally long time. Finishing the first draft felt like running a marathon for the first time: physical exhaustion combined with the exhilaration of finishing a daunting task.
I thought that revising the first draft would be easier. Then I realized I didn’t know how to go about it. I had of course rewritten many pieces of writing through the decades, but they were all short and small pieces compared to the first draft of my memoir. Where does one start? How does one start to revise such a huge amount of writing?
Again, I tried to look for a book to guide me. To help me write the first draft, I depended on two books. I also enrolled in three online classes (more on online classes in a future post). The classes helped, but after the third online class I knew that attending more online classes was not what I needed to help me go through this daunting project.
I bought a book on how to blueprint one’s book. It was so intriguing and seemed to make a lot of sense, but my non-technical brain could not keep up with the technical nature of the process of blueprinting the first draft. With much regret I put the book aside. Project memoir was also set aside.
Writing the first draft was hard, but it was a very transformative experience. It helped to have the right books and the support from the online classes. For a while, after failing to produce a blueprint for the memoir, I thought it would be better and a whole lot easier to draft another book. Oh yes, the temptation to write another first draft for another book was so great because compared to the task of revision, writing the first draft seemed so much easier.
Happily, after a few months I discovered an equally intriguing book – Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice, by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew which was released early this year. I;m sure it is the perfect guide for this part of the writing journey.
When I first set out to write the first draft of the memoir, I had no idea how much it would impact my life. I am wiser now and I know that writing a book is a lengthy journey so I have neither deadlines nor expectations as I pick up pen and paper to start the revision process.
Strength and courage comes when one feels guided. So here I go…onward!
“You can fall in love with your first draft, but don’t marry it.” – Jorie Miller