Currently, I’m ensconced in South Carolina, in the friendly arms of the Converse Low-Residency MFA program, where we’re having our winter residency session. Lots to report on, as usual, but also very little time, as usual! For now, I thought I would share the handout that accompanied my craft lecture, which was titled, “Inch by Inch, Word by Word: Strategies for Revision.” I’ve also included a bonus resource that I discovered after I put together this document.
Flannery O’Connor’s 8 Rules of Writing
(Also worth looking at for the great photo of Flannery with her peacocks!)
My favorite music to revise to:
The River by Ketil Bjornstad and David Darling
(Skip the stupid ad at the beginning…it’s not very revision-friendly.)
Draft: The Journal of Process
(Fascinating literary journal that publishes draft/s of prose, followed by the final version, followed by an interview with the author.)
“Revision is Experimentation” by John Guzlowski, blog post on Everything’s Jake
(Lots of ideas here for poets and prose writers, with an emphasis on experimenting rather than “fixing.”)
“Revising your writing again? Blame the Modernists: How self-editing became the first commandment of literature” by Pablo Amargo, published in The Boston Globe
(I shouldn’t share this because it’s all about how “classic” writers like, say, Shakespeare, DIDN’T revise their work! Revising is a new thing! Because we have computers instead of quills! No wonder I didn’t mention any of this in my lecture!!!)
“Design Wrong: Harness the Power of Imperfection” by Scott Dadich, published in Wired magazine
(All rules are meant to be broken…these ideas go a step beyond the “polish to perfection” approach to argue that imperfection is also rewarding; though the piece focuses on tech design, it’s relevant to any creative endeavor.)
“New Translations of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina” by Masha Gessen, published in The New York Times Book Review
A wonderful exploration of finding the “right word” as a translator, with a wallop of a conclusion that demonstrates how one well-chosen word truly will change everything.