confessions / revising / short stories / writing

5 Writing Strengths, Minus 1

I have to take #1 back.

I said I could handle revision. I cannot. I can handle revision only when I am facing my own notes or only when I don’t care so much anymore, which takes time, loads and loads of time. In order to handle revision, I need some amnesia. It comes, but not right away. In the heat of the moment, feedback is too startling, too raw. Especially feedback I, though I loathe to admit it, might happen to agree with. I was trying to revise a story to send it out on submission this Wednesday and possibly, maybe-possibly-not-sure, read an excerpt of it out loud in front of people next weekend, but now that there is talk of revision the story has gotten all dirty and slimy and just gross and I don’t want to look at it anymore, even in pieces, and so I don’t want to read it in front of people and I don’t want to revise it. I probably won’t touch it for weeks. Probably December at the earliest. I need this much time in order to even begin the revisions.

Clearly this is not a person who, and I quote, is “always willing to plunge back in.”

What I should have said is that my first writing strength is:

1. Willingness to revise—after months and months have passed and I have stopped stomping around like a whiny baby and I’ve gotten a hold of myself and become a more rational person, which could take a year, all things considered.

There. Now that I’ve set the record straight I feel much better.

4 thoughts on “5 Writing Strengths, Minus 1

  1. Nova–I know you don’t mean to make me giggle, but you did. Your post reminds me of where I am now, in the mountains, revising away. And how AWFUL and TEDIOUS it is. The feedback I don’t mind–I’ve got it, accepted it easily, but to REVISE THE STORY? Man. It’s almost worse to KNOW what you have to do, but realizing it’s an uphill climb.

    At least with the first draft, you have NO idea where you’re going, and while the journey is, overall, still difficult, you’re not sitting there bracing yourself and psyching yourself out!

  2. Thank you for yours on my writing strengths … and did you know that when Hemingway finished a story he’d put it away for three months? He said that gave him enough distance from the story and he could read it as if it had been written by someone else, so what needed to be rewritten was clear. And I imagine – although I can’t imagine Hemingway saying this – that his emotional connection to the story was weaker by then, so he would be less invested in what he’d written and it would be easier to revise.

    I love revising because it means I’ve actually got something to revise! You’ll probably think that quite mad … .

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