Oh, revision. You beautiful, terrible, horrible, wonderful thing. “Revision.” Even the word itself is an enigma. A “vision” evokes a pretty waterfall, or a rainbow, or a beautiful mermaid with long, flowing hair (is that just me?). “Re” on the other hand? Re means re-doing. It means more work. It means having to unspin what you’ve spun and re-spin it with tighter stitches. Where am I going with this? Maybe I should have revised this idea before I started writing about it (hah). My point is this: I have a love-hate relationship with revision. Like cauliflower, I hate the taste of it but I know it’s good for me. For me, the most painful part of every CW workshop is going home and realizing that I have to look at that story or poem that I just wrote (and probably really wanted to be done with) again and change it. What keeps me going, though, is knowing that my wonderful and talented classmates have taken the time to read my work give me intelligent, genuinely helpful feedback. If Hemingway could re-write the last page of Farewell to Arms 39 times, I can definitely re-write my short story once. I’ve learned that, although it might be painful, something better with inevitably result of rewriting my work. In an interview with The Paris Review back in 1956, Ernest Hemingway said it best:
Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.