Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Endless Revision

For years as a teacher I preached that so much of writing was really rewriting, that revision literally often meant re-seeing a text. How true that remains. Water Cycle is a book that has taken years and years to write, in large part because I had to learn how to write a book, and in large part because I chose a project (perhaps purposefully, perhaps to impose self-punishment) that is intricate, complicated, layered. I've spent the last three or four days not just revisiting a text that most would feel is complete, but working on one more short chapter that might help relieve an itch that has always existed, a need to have one of the dead characters in the book have a chance at touching the reader from beyond the grave. It is a revision that is a response both to a need I have always felt but never been able to articulate and a reaction to my interpretation of what several agents have been quietly indicating. Mostly this latest revision comes with a thank you to a quality reader who (my youngest daughter) who not only proved a close, and capable reader, but one willing to take me seriously when I asked her questions. 18 and about to leave for college, the quality of her reading reminds me again of why we must never dismiss the young just because they are young, and why we can always sustain hope for our future. Sometime a reader can offer you just the right prompt to make you ask questions of yourself and then return to instincts on how you respond to those questions. Ultimately good revision can be as fulfilling as the initial creative act, for you begin to see the deeper textures, the veins and sinew running within a text that fuel it and hold it together. In the end the focus remains on finding the way to tell all the story as it wishes and needs to be told. It's just that sometime it takes years to listen to the story.

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