Oh, wait… Revision doesn’t exactly fit into that photogenic image of the cozy chair next to the fireplace. And yet, it is a vital part of life. At least the life of a writer.
I’ve waited thirty years to call myself a writer, and now as I sit in my NaNoWriMo t-shirt with my tiny laptop in my cozy chair next to the flames, I’m inundated by the awareness that this is the life of a writer (or the side-life of a teacher who wants to also write and has to cram the writing—and now, even worse, revision—process into the nooks and crannies of life). It’s not as glorious as I had imagined all of those years when I was too afraid to consider myself one.
I realize as I sit here procrastinating instead of revising, that this website is already morphing into something I did not anticipate. The best laid plans… Though in my case, the planning is relatively minimal, but the entity is already escaping the purpose I intended. I’m becoming more accustomed to the tiny part that my conscious mind plays in the creative process—nothing turns out the way that I expect. I don't like it, but I'm learning to live with it.
I preach to my students about staying focused on their purpose and their argument—that those specific statements are the focal points on what can be a widely wandering and difficult-to-read road map. I tell them that revision is vital, that it is just as important as writing.
However, I don’t tell them how difficult it is to know course ahead of you, and I certainly do not mention how hard it is to follow the course even once you find hints of what it should be—even with the best road map. It’s challenging to read a map that is perpetually changing.
Perhaps it will be easier for them. With academic writing, it has always been easy for me. Creative writing is a different beast entirely.
The revision process is like taming a stubborn wild horse. Or like doing a deep cleaning of a filthy house. The truth is I’ve never been good at that kind of thing; I’m too impulsive and I lack the discipline and patience. It requires ingenuity, courage, and determination, and after a month in the doldrums of revision, I’m running a bit low on all three.
And yet if I intend to continue calling myself a writer, I better get back to it. Enough procrastinating. Revision awaits.