Creative Revision

My summer break came to an end just over a month ago, and since then I have had to adjust my writing schedule. My job demands 50+ hours each week. In fact, the last two years I worked an average of 70+ hours per week, but I have capped myself at 50. If I work too much, then I have no time for writing related activities. I am a writer.

While I’m working full time, rewriting comes more easily than writing first drafts. Revision takes time and creative energy, but with a draft already in my hands I am able to focus more easily.

My writing goal for this month was to revise my manuscript so that it would qualify for two novella literary contests. To meet the word count requirement, I had to cut about 8,000 words. Once I read through the manuscript, though, I saw a way of making significant cuts while still retaining the essence of the story.

The story is structured around the convergence of two disjointed narratives. The image I used to help me organize the text was that of a braided river. Many scenes in one part of the narrative are echoed in another part. By cutting a scene and its mirror, I was able to maintain the structural integrity and heart of the work.

Of course, these scenes still exist, just not as part of the novella. I may create a short story from them.

I began writing this story more than three years ago and had solidified my thinking about it. This process allowed me to look at the manuscript with fresh eyes. For example, I noticed for the first time the heavy influence of the epic tradition on my writing. I incorporated or conspicuously omitted many epic characteristics. The story begins in medias res but with a stifled call to the Muse. As I went back through the manuscript, I accentuated these choices and tightened up the language.

This weekend I sent the manuscript off.

Now I am beginning another project: revising a small collection of autobiographical short stories I wrote almost 10 years ago. I am a better writer now. My intention is to apply the craft I’ve learned writing fiction to these stories. Specifically, I am interested in retelling these stories using point of view to reflect their fragmented nature.

“The best writing is rewriting.”

~ E.B.White

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