Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preaching to the choir

Tonight as I was browsing Barbara Kingsolver's website I came across an answer to an FAQ that sums up everything I want my life to be, everything I want for my writing. And like everything Ms. Kingsolver writes, these words speak perfectly to a part of my soul I can't even describe.

Do you go through a lot of drafts?

Gazillions. I adore revision. Whether it’s a two-page article or a 500-page book, I rewrite endlessly. I may rewrite the first paragraph of a novel fifty times before I’m satisfied. I comb through a manuscript again and again, altering every sentence a little or a lot. I don’t print out every draft on paper, or I’d be mowing down forests.
Pounding out a first draft is like hoeing a row of corn – you just keep your head down and concentrate on getting to the end. Revision is where fine art begins. It’s thrilling to take an ending and pull it backward like a shiny thread through the whole fabric of a manuscript, letting little glints shine through here and there. To plant resolution, like a seed, into chapter one. To create new scenes, investing a character with the necessary damage, the right kind of longing. To pitch out boldly and try again. To work every metaphor across the whole, back and forth, like weaving. I love that word “fabrication,” because making an elaborate fiction feels so much like making cloth.
Perfectionism is my disease. Revision is my milk and honey.

Amen, sister.



2 comments:

  1. And this my friend is why it takes me impossible amounts of time to write on silly little blog post!

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  2. I suddenly feel less guilt about my disease-like perfectionism.

    ReplyDelete