Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Re-Vision

Good column today over at the Chronicle of Higher Education about revision in writing.

Personally, I love revisions, whether in my scholarly writing or with "The Sunflowers." I find revising much more fun than writing the first draft. The first draft gets the ideas down, but only in revision (or sometimes, in rewriting altogether) do you begin to see the deeper angles, the connections, the nuances. I could tinker forever on anything, and usually only surrender it when there's no choice but to do so. My students haven't learned yet the seduction of revision--neither had I, as an undergraduate--and they think they're done with the first draft. Nope. That's just the beginning.

3 comments:

artmodel said...

So well said, Sheramy. The hard work is in the revisions, I've always believed. "Putting down" thoughts and communicating coherent thoughts are two very different things. It's during the revision process that a written work starts to come alive. You can see it growing a backbone and a purpose, the "deeper angles" like you said. I feel it's when your writing muscles really get flexed.

I revised like crazy in college! I hope your students come to understand the value of the revision process.

Sheramy said...

'Backbone' is a good word and a good metaphor to use, because there is (or should be) a spine running all the way through the text and everything should connect somehow. It's like that song about the whatever bone connecting to the whatever bone. I love it when in revision you see a fabulous connection that you didn't see before and you can rework it in there and you hope everybody is going to think it as fabulous as you do and you say EUREKA!

As for the students...I think our entire culture nowadays advocates an ideal of maximum result with minimum effort, which has a very detrimental effect. In my class, minimum effort means minimum grade!

Julianne Douglas said...

Thanks for the link, Sheramy. It's very timely, as I'm considering doing exactly what the article describes with a certain manuscript....