On Being a “Writer” (part 2: Revision)

I’ve come to realize that my writing process is heavily linked to the way that I live my life. I live in this strange dichotomy between confidence and self-consciousness. This is how I write. I boldly throw down some words, knowing very well what I mean to say, but then agonize over it.

Agonize doesn’t actually mean revise. I used to hate the process of revision. Revision played a huge part of my Creative Writing program at Interlochen, as it does in most writing programs, workshops, and lives, anywhere. I had a special disdain for it. It wounds my ego. I know what I’m saying and how I meant to say it; and isn’t there some beautiful perfection seared into that? I had this intimate and inflated understanding of my Truth, combined with a certain lack of finesse in my delivery, that did not always win me good grades or good graces. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

Back then, I often found my muse. I didn’t even know that it was a gift. Later in life, struggling studying poetry in college, my favorite writing professor, Olga Broumas, used to call this, arriving “under a passing angel.” We discussed the muse and the process of finding it, often. It is a preoccupation of creatives, and a dangerous one.

I constantly wrestle with my angels. My intention is not to make this about the muse (I will certainly hack this idea to death in a later post), but what I mean to discuss is Revision. Nothing is ever done. This is also a dangerous preoccupation of creatives, but paired with the ability to wrangle your muse, my best advice is this: find that balance.

Also, along with finding that nothing is ever done, I also found that everything has been done before. It’s a daunting realization and frankly it sometimes makes me want to put down the pen. It’s like realizing your candle is burning at both ends. But I don’t stop. I found that this is probably one of the most exciting part of Modernization. The ability to choose. Lifetimes lengthened. The nature of time changed due to the decreasing amount of time we had to spend simply surviving.

I believe that Modernization is like the adolescence of human-kind. The realization that there are different ways to do similar things and to get to similar places; that there is something to be learned from not only those who tried before you, but the you who tried before you. Ah, revision.

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