“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” ~ Truman Capote
(Posted, recently, on the Facebook page of writer and craft guru, Dinty W. Moore.)
Hello again, readers! Just thought I might share a new “Manuscript Monday,” and post a little of what’s been happening offline with my work.
When I was young, I hated revision. I thought that the more “meddling” was done to a piece of writing, the worse it became. With time I learned to embrace revision. I still don’t enjoy it, but I respect it, because what makes writing better, and revision better, is practice.
What does not improve my writing is waiting for September’s muse to blow kisses on my pencil.
I recently finished a brutal revision on an essay that took a very long time. I removed, rearranged, and rewrote entire sections. It was an expanded version of one I had written over a year ago, entwined with two related pieces, and a copious amount of notes scribbled during a recent road trip. I shaped the work into a form I thought more suitable for the content.
The scissors hacked pieces of lovely prose, and sections that last year I would have deemed untouchable. When I was done butchering my piece, I had what felt like a disjointed and misshapen mess. I thought that I had lost the aesthetic during renovation.
But I let it breathe again, before bringing it out to re-read. I was grateful to realize that the scissors did what they needed to do, and the piece turned out as I hoped.
Maybe, for me, learning revision has been like learning to cut into a folded piece of paper as a child: each time the cuts are more precise, the edges balanced, and creative nuances begin to show in the shape of the cuts, the location of the nicks; and each time, the paper is unfolded to reveal a fully formed snowflake.
Or maybe after all that, I’ll learn it’s still just a chopped up piece of paper, unfolded to reveal a big square dud with a bunch of clawmarks. Maybe September’s muse needs to pucker up…
Writers, are you fond of revision? What’s your process?