December 10, 2012

Revisions Suck Because You've Got Good Taste

Beloved Husband, the recording engineer, is fond of saying, "I don't finish projects, I only abandon them."

I can totally relate. Revisions are really hard. It's hard to pick apart my work, ferret out the flaws, and delete my darlings. Every time I think I'm done with a piece of writing, I'll pick it up a week, or a month, or a year later and find something else wrong with it. It's maddening, but it's also a sign of growth.

I posted this quote from Ira Glass about a year ago, but I thought it was especially relevant as I begin revising my work from NaNo, and I wanted to share it again.
“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.

But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
This is a paraphrased quote by Ira Glass (I got it here), the host and producer of the radio show, This American Life on Public Radio. Mr. Glass's words cut right to the heart of what it means to embark on a creative endeavor - of any kind.

Stick with it. Don't quit. Do the work.

Here's the whole video in case you are interested.

Hang in there, my friends. Have you started your NaNo revisions? How long do you wait before revising something you've written?
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