An Aside on Revising

February 3, 2009

I personally find revision
one of the hardest and most puzzling parts of the writing process and am always looking for new ways to disassemble my words.  

GlimmerTrain fiction contest winner Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig writes a jubilant list of strategies here.
With my favorite being: "Make it delicious. Write with
felt tipped pens on silky paper. Put on the flouncy dress you've been
saving for a special occasion. The stockings and the crinoline too.
Look first-date amazing. Then sit at your desk, and get to

Doesn't that make you want to write right now?

Also, I recently discovered the blog of one of my favorite writers: Bhanu Kapil: Was Jack Kerouac a Panjabi? She is a professor at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO, and is always teaching interesting courses on hybridity in writing. Currently teaching a seminar on architecture and writing, she writes:

In some ways, the passage between architecture and hybrid writing is most useful for me when I am re-writing. In Boulder, I sometimes go to see a shaman called Swan Ashley. At least, I think she is a shaman. She lies you down on a table and collects her hands above you and...the closest I can come to describing it is that she creates a kind of suction. All this light is sealed in around your body and it traps the images. It traps them long enough for you to form a narrative in the deepest kind of time. For you to understand what you are seeing. The process of gridding -- whether cubically or in the kind of list Virginia Woolf used to write in pencil above her desk...questions, motifs, sentences...that she could observe when she blanked out...did she blank out?: is like that. It's tonal. It's, as Beatriz Calomina writes, "a double envelope." Writing these notes makes me miss living in a city.

So, there's two pretty unconventional strategies for rewriting. Get to it.




Gawd, this is deep. I don't think I can handle it. =) Thanks for posting Neela.
neela, great to see a literary post here. yes, bhanu kapil is so interesting. per writing processes are so painstaking and calculated, and her writing is very very dense. i totally dig that "hybrid" is not only her genre, but also her subject matter and speaker.