I touched on the idea of Revision in my second post in this series. I have been grappling with this for as long as I’ve lived. Seriously, though, my whole existence. Most of us are built-in with the mechanism and desire to self edit. This is a gorgeous part of perception and the universe: we are moving and there is change. I absolutely accept my agency in the ability to learn and modulate my actions and behaviors to achieve certain outcomes.
As applied to my creative process, I’ve always had a very hard time with the notion of Perfection. I almost never said it aloud. If I even thought it, I’d cringe, waiting for Karma to come and strike me down at the very thought. As far as I know, no deed I have done, nor work I’ve managed to produce is perfect. But some of it has been.
Let me chew some of that for you. I wrote earlier, “nothing is ever done.” I feel strongly that this is the case, especially when I think about my writing. For instance, I have been working on a screenplay for years. I get some ways through, and then life gets in the way. When I come back to my work days, months, years later, I don’t just pick up where I left off in the fashion and style I had the last time I sat with it. I rip it to shreds (not literally) and amend sometimes the seemingly most minute “mistakes.”
I’ve actually started leaving notes for the Future Claire who will revise and then continue to write the work (“consider another word…”; “you’re gonna hate this…”; “awkward!”). Why don’t I just pick another word right then and there if I anticipate considering it unsatisfactory in the future? Because that’s what I could come up with then, and that’s what allows me to keep going, for the time being.
Physically, there must be a frame of reference to determine and observe movement. In terms of revision, you’ve got to put something down in order to make it better. Draft #18 was “Perfect” because it exists. It brought me somehow closer to completion. (I consider drafts like breadcrumbs through the winding woods of your creativity). However, if I sat down to Draft #18 today, I would not be able to assert that it is “Perfect” for many reasons, including the fact that it does not fulfill the basic requirements I’ve determined to deem it finished. Also, that there are some words that don’t work, as Past Claire rightly predicted.
To finish out I want to notice: (1) in writing terms, narratives are described as “arcs,” supposing that the work as a whole is a circle and (2) in drawing up a graph, for instance, you “plot” a point. Lastly, what keeps me going is the ability to find Perfection in the moment and be satisfied with that until I’m ready again to revise.