Write Now Newsletter – June 2005

“I love revision. Where else can spilled milk be turned into cream?” – Katherine Patterson

Hi Writers:

I spent yesterday watching spilled milk curdle. The more I worked on the short story I was writing, the more the smell nauseated me. And now this essay is having the same effect. As I move the pen, it feels like I’m merely rearranging the stench.

The key for me is to just get it down. Once the milk is spilled, I let it sit, stagnate, get sticky. I let it stink. When I come back to it later, I rework the molecules, exchange a couple of proteins for sugars, swap some atoms around. I wave my magic wand across the words and slowly, lovingly, a change occurs. Abracadabra and voila! Cream. If I’m lucky, sweet whipped cream!

Editing is the is the second half of the writing equation. As any mathematician worth a fractile knows, equations must balance. If I bend over, I must stand back up. If I write, I must eventually edit. If I look at editing from that framework, it is much less painful. I can re-vision, see the work again. Instead of thinking of it as correcting my mistakes, I see it as transforming the words. I move from a place where the inner critic has me by the antlers to fluidity, letting my creative side facilitate the process.

How do you view editing? Is it a four-letter word or a chance for alchemy? The next time you find yourself dreading the revision process, imagine your pen as a magic wand, wave it over your work and watch the spell be cast. Surprise yourself. Voila! Brie!

Nita(what’s that smell?)Sweeney
(c)2005 by Nita Sweeney