Revision: the end times

This is karma for all those times I told a student that revising a piece was good for them, like spinach.  This is payback for the “more detail needed” and “can you make the voice stronger” comments I penciled next to someone else’s poems and stories.

This is the fate I’ve earned for gleefully striking thousands of words from my own stories with abandon, confident that I knew what I was doing, that in fact I was a professional –Hold my beer, folks, watch this.

I’m stuck in revision hell, and I can’t get out:  revising the same stories over and over; cutting things that trusted readers say I shouldn’t be cutting, and then putting them back in.  The frustration level over here in my garret (ok, not really) is measurable in ohms.  I’ve told myself to back away slowly from the keyboard, and I’m reading instead.

I’m reading because I know that one day, I’ll get my revision-fu back.  There will be a point where I take out the scalpel or the pickaxe or whatever and find the shape of the piece inside that first blocky draft. When I do get it back, the things that I’m reading now and in the future will be helpful, because they’re very wise.  I’m reading to remind myself that everyone goes through this a little, at some point, and also to give myself a kick to keep going.

What am I reading? Not the usual essays from the bookshelf. At this moment two things from the interwebs –

What do you read to get yourself out of a revision rut?


  1. Thanks for the mention! I think you’re doing the wisest possible thing at the moment. When it feels like you’re repeatedly smashing your head against a brick wall, walk away, give yourself space, work on a different project, and come back to the piece later with fresh eyes. It’s amazing what time and distance will do.

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