Revise, Release

“Everything you release frees you.”

The heat today was very intense. I managed to walk my dog Ryder just before the sky opened up and a torrential downpour swept the streets cooling the air. The thunder and lightning scared Ryder, but the rain was certainly a blessing. The sense of relief and release as the air unburdened itself of all that heat was almost palpable. Everything: the grass, the sky, the air itself seemed to breathe again. You know the feeling, I’m sure.

Release is on my mind today, because I just spent several hours going through a major section of my YA novel. After reading six chapters or so with a fresh eye, it’s very clear that I have some major revising to do. And some of that involves letting go of things I’ve written that I like, but that don’t really work.

I remember reading that Joyce Carol Oates loves the revising stage in her fiction writing. Getting the first draft together — messy and misshapen — is the hardest part of the process for her. She enjoys taking that confusing mass of ideas that she poured into her first draft and shaping it into something. It’s a structural challenge that she finds enjoyable.

I’m working hard to get into that mindset, but frankly, I’m just the opposite of Joyce. I’m a newbie on the novel front, but I’ve found that I love the freedom and fun and unfetteredness of getting a first draft together. My mind and my imagination can roam across the page — whatever I say, goes. I’m the Lady of All Creation — it’s a juicy, jazzy role and I love it!

Rolling up my sleeves and pruning my prose is something else again. While I enjoy the results of tweaking and tightening, I find this stage very challenging. But as I sharpen my pencil and get to work, it helps if I remind myself of something my Dharma teacher said: “everything you release frees you.” The more unneeded words and scenes I let go of, the stronger and more fluid my work becomes. So let’s prune and prosper!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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