A year ago I challenged myself to write one story a week. This year I challenge myself to revise one story a week. Five weeks, five revisions. Drafts and revisions posted on the next five Fridays. At some point during each week, I’ll check in here to tell about the piece in progress or my process.
I’m doing this because I need to respect my writing enough to work with a piece through its completion. It’s easy for me to keep a notebook and write down my rattling thoughts and it’s easy to do the same writing exercises I assign my students and it’s easy for me to think that some of this work will get read someday. Some and someday are so broad I can feign commitment to writing without honing the craft. But if I practice the craft and honor this gift, my writing will be ready and worth sharing. So I make up these games and start before I’m ready.
This week I’m revising a story that is such a mess only a couple of people have ever read it. I remember feeling very brilliant while I wrote the first draft. The story nearly turned into a Jodi Piccoult novel. Which I realized after I’d slogged through to the end, tears on my cheeks. Even so, I wanted to revise it and did, a couple of years ago. I didn’t like the result much and only reread it this past week. Until then, it’d been a file on my computer I’d avoid eye contact with.
Why pick this for the first of five? Because it’s so bad it can only get better. And because I abandoned a good first sentence for a terrible story. And because I must start somewhere.