Saturday, January 24, 2009

Revising: Brain Pain

You know, in general I like the process of revising my work. I like to read it again and again, admiring it, amazed that something close to coherent has come out of my hand. I like changing a word here, a sentence there, dawdling in the meaningful parts. .
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I even like fixing those pesky errors I’m prone to: grammatical errors, spelling errors, telling more then showing, using clich├ęs. But I’m OK with that, god knows I’m not an English Major. I’m a doctor. I nearly flunked out of high school, and then worked my way up from Community College focused on science. And I don't come from a highly educated family. In fact, even after I had everyone I loved or admired proofread my ‘personal statement’ - the essay section of my medical school application, a spelling error remained for all to read, and comment on, as I sat across from them in my stiff interview clothes. (I had suggested it was helpful to stay away from pier pressure, which is good, I guess … if you’re, I don’t know, a dolphin.)
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So, yes, I'm impressed when I write something that clearly shows a moment of life, has a message, or holds a thread of an idea long enough to land it in the end. And I know I’ll have to fix it up.
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But revising to the degree suggested in class last week doesn’t feel possible.
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Go with the mother angle or my own revelations, not both. But (she whines) the whole point was to be that it is both. If I drop the mother angle the last line, which I love, won’t work. And I can’t bear to drop the lessons of pie being a balance of crust and filling (yin/yang) or learning how quickly one can move from not quite enough to far too much.
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And, more importantly, I have no concrete idea how to do the whole thing metaphorically.
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Help! My revising brain hurts. Anyone else in this same boat?
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Janice

2 comments:

  1. Janice, we are definitely paddling along in the same boat! But I think that it is good you have recognized what you are doing and would like to do. So, I would suggest just giving it time. Maybe just taking a break from it--your brain pain will subside--and what to do will come to you. Also, it is possible to weave all of the story lines together (your mom, your revelations about pie, and the balance/crust concept). However, all of the storylines need to serve one purpose that will eventually build and add to a greater purpose in the end of the piece. What is that "greater" purpose you are trying to fulfill? Figuring that out seems to be where the work lies.

    I hope this wasn't too vague and some how relieved your brain pain. Oh, and of course, has allowed you to see beyond the boat.

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  2. You can't always respond to all ideas for revisions. Pick something you can live with and revise. It's your piece, after all. If everyone is asking for the same thing, you need to realize something is not working, though.

    Revising should be more than editing. It means re seeing, looking at everything again. Sometimes it is painful, there's no way around it, but sometimes the solutions proposed in workshop may not be the ones to speak most to you. So you need to think about what's really going on in the piece and revise with that in mind. And have some patience.

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Please feel free to jot down your thoughts. I would appreciate knowing your reaction if any, to what I've written, and/or your feedback on how I've written it. I am actively trying to be a better writer.