Yesterday I wrote a post about my March April May Revision plan: about fifty thousand shoddy pieces of essay and fiction I’d like to slap into shape. I listed the pieces by theme or character title, with a cheery note about updating my progress on each, published the post, looked at it, trashed it.
March April May Revision will happen and I will post the process. But seeing the list in print – the same list I write out in my notebook when I need to see it still fits on a page, it isn’t such a wild reach – seeing the list in print made me want to quit.
Every third day I want to quit this work. It is work! My WP is valuable. But I often show up at the page and just write junk. I write my same messes over and over. The joy of generating a piece is tempered by the effort of revising that piece so that what I really want to say comes through.
I have learned to make myself finish a draft. Yesterday afternoon I looked through a few notebooks from 2009 and was shocked by how many of the pages were fiction starts, many of those characters left right where I wrote them. So I have learned to write my way to an end. And now I am learning to make myself revise. Take the feedback I’ve received, work with my own ideas, play, reshape, and revise my way to a finished work.
I need this revision practice. Over and over and over. I need enough practice to know what’s possible in my own work. I need to see that I can finish a work, many works. I need to practice the discipline of opening a file, rereading notes, thinking thinking thinking, and revising before I close the file and fear-eat an entire chocolate bar.
I won’t quit, but I’ll want to, again and again.