March 18, 2020 Brian Allain

Revision Is New Vision

If revision isn’t what our English teachers taught, what is it exactly? Revision is the work of seeing with new eyes. Creativity is the ability to make new things or think new ideas; it is the capacity to see or make newness. Revision is the flourishing of creativity.

A word closely related to revision is respect, whose Latin roots mean “look back at” or “regard.”  Revision is the work of respecting creation.

For our purposes here, I refer to all drafts beyond the first as revision. But in reality writers revise as soon as an idea pops into our heads. A creative concept changes how we’ve previously understood the world. An initial draft takes that concept and gives it form—revises it—by embodying it in the printed word. When we lead curious, openhearted lives, revision is a natural consequence of growth. Taking revision onto the page allows us to participate intentionally, as active authors of our lives.

 

from “Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, Skinner House