Some Thoughts on the Revision Process

One of my favorite parts of rewriting comes when I realize the shit I’m walking though isn’t nearly as deep as I first imagined. Take the case of my latest Enchanted Forest story, “Exit Interview.” I was worried about the ending being unbelievable – and when I got there, it was – but part of my rewriting process involves reading the story as I transpose it from handwriting to typescript. That allows me to see it from a clairvoyant’s perspective. The future is no more distant than the present, since I’ve already written the words and know generally where I’m going. In this way, I can start to plan for the roadblocks I already know about, which means I usually know how to fix them by the time the narrative carries up to that point.

What all of that means for this story is that the part I was worrying over turned out to be the part I was reimagining on-the-fly, as I typed, to suit not want I already had, but instead the better idea I had thanks to that literary clairvoyance. I was able to make the story so much better without leaving this as a worry for the third draft, as I would’ve done in the past. I’ve had stories fall apart because of those nagging worries; I forget to write down the solution, or I don’t have a good answer, or io just figure on letting later keep for later. All those are forms of haunting. None of the voices are quiet. The past mistakes inform the unsure present, which bars me from seeing the future, even if it’s as obvious as prostitute. That leads down the path of giving up.

Instead, I let the story help itself, and let the voices in my head have the floor. I’m glad I did. Now the past, present, and future are all in one space, ready to merge into a story.