And now for some inspiring words from the beloved children’s writer, Roald Dahl:
“When you’re writing, it’s rather like going
on a very long walk, across valleys and
mountains and things, and you get the first
view of what you see and you write it down.
Then you walk a bit further, maybe up onto
the top of a hill, and you see something else.
Then you write that and you go on like that,
day after day, getting different views
of the same landscape really.
“The highest mountain on the walk is
obviously the end of the book, because
it’s got to be the best view of all, when
everything comes together and you can
look back and see that everything you’ve
done all ties up. But it’s a very, very
long slow process.”
This long view of writing is comforting, isn’t it? We need to just keep walking and writing, walking and writing, and eventually we’ll get where we what to go. Dinty Moore, author of the lovely guide, The Mindful Writer, sees this as an apt reflection of the revision process. Here’s how Dinty describe his attitude toward revision:
“Revision is my favorite part of writing, because I can look back from the highest of hills (the end of my latest draft) and see where I’ve been, where I wandered jaggedly off course, and where I might have saved myself some steps. Plus, it is at this point that I begin to have a sense of where I’m going (having just arrived).
“Revision allows me to retrace my steps and adjust my journey, making it graceful and efficient, constructing the path I would have followed had I known all along here I was headed.
“It can be a ‘very, very long, slow process,’ as Dahl suggests, but it is what writers do and it is worth every moment you spend.”
What a graceful, encouraging way to view revision: A long walk that allows us to revisit our journey and understand more fully where we were headed in the first place. A “long walk” — let’s keep this image before us today as we all write on.
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