Ah, revision. A topic we love, or hate, or love to hate. But one that we cannot fail to recognize as critical to good writing.
Here are a few favorite quotes on revision from some famous writers:
"In writing, you must kill all your darlings." William Faulkner
"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." Mark Twain (no longer true, but you get the idea)
Interviewer:"Was there some technical problem? What stumped you?"
Ernest Hemingway: "Getting the words right." (from an interview question on why Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms so many times)
And finally, this gem:
"Let's say it's a mess. but you have a chance to fix it. You try to be clearer. Or deeper. Or more eloquent. Or more eccentric. You try to be true to a world. You want the book to be more spacious, more authoritative. You want to winch yourself up from yourself. You want to winch the book out of your balky hand. You try to liberate it. You try to get this wretched stuff on the page closer to what you think your book ought to be—what you know, in your spasms of elation, it can be. You read the sentences over and over. Is this the book I'm writing? Is this all?" Susan Sontag
Are you comfortable revising? Do you love it? Do you merely tolerate it?
It seems that as we mature as writers we come to embrace revision because, as Sontag says, we have a chance to fix our mess. Once we realize that everyone creates a mess that has to be fixed, and that revision comes with the deal if you want to write, we can get excited about this phase of the process.
What are your favorite things about revising? Do you have any fun revision stories or quotes (yours or someone else's) you can share?