– from “Living Revision” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
“You can fall in love with your first draft,” the poet and memoirist Jorie Miller likes to say, “but don’t marry it.” We enter mature and lasting relationships with creative work through revision. Like any healthy commitment, revision demands of us practices that commonly make us groan: balancing the joy of spontaneity and inspiration with the efficacy of restraint and discipline. Attaching ourselves wholeheartedly to the work while also holding it lightly. Exercising humility. Listening deeply. Seeking what’s true and naming it as best we can. Facing the full range of our humanity, from utterly broken to fabulously beautiful. Being willing to grow. Practicing patience, discernment, compassion. Revision requires inner work and thus is a spiritual practice. Through revision’s grueling demands and absorbing joys, we come more alive.
Most people don’t want to make this effort because they don’t realize revision is the work of learning to love. Love isn’t just a feeling; it’s an act of will, consent, and surrender. Love takes time. Love is what brings us and our writing to fruition.