John Irving wrote in the opening to Trying to Save Piggy Sneed,
“Half my life is an act of revision.”
Ain’t that the truth.
I share Mr. Irving’s love of revision. I enjoy blue ink on paper, deleting the fat and plumping up the skinny parts. I love drilling down to find the essence of what I want to convey.
Right now I’m revising the first several chapters of my YA. Again. I recently received stellar editorial input on my opening pages that has allowed a minor miracle: I am reading the pages with new eyes. I’ve already worked and worked and worked some more on those chapters, yet this editor’s input changed my perception of what was there on the page. It’s as if her reaction to what she read is forcing me to “defend” each and every word, every motivation. I’m no longer reading the pages with the mindset of someone who knows the entire story and all the backstory, but as a brand new reader! I didn’t think it was possible to read stuff I’d already read gazillions of times with fresh eyes, but it is. It really is.
Wow. Amazing stuff. Yet I’m alternating between thinking, “This is so cool that I have this new heightened awareness!” and “What is wrong with me that it’s taken so long to achieve this awareness that any writer worth her laser printer should already have?!”
So, in an effort to be kinder to myself, I’m focusing on this quote from Ernest Hemingway:
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”