Sunday, June 9, 2013

Slow and Steady — You Will Finish the Race

Oh, revision. That's what I've been doing lately. And to be honest, part of me misses the days of writing and creating, though of course, within revision both exist. Still, I miss the feeling of cranking out the pages and getting the story down on paper for the first time. There's something thrilling about that. Whereas writing is driving down a road never traveled, revision is going back and making the path smooth. There is beauty in that, to be sure, but it isn't always as thrilling. Some days I love it more than others, and I know some writers just rejoice in the land of revision, but right now, I kind of wish I could go back to that exciting, fast paced, write-it-all-down-before-it slips-out-of-your-mind kind of feeling.

In this first round of major revision, the pace isn't fast. It's not a whirlwind. It's slow and steady. I am not the hare in the proverbial race with the tortoise. I'm the tortoise. Moving along, getting it done, but certainly not impressing anyone (namely myself) with the speed, and not really doing anything flashy. Yet, there is a lot to be learned from this venerable animal:

The tortoise never gives up. He works at his own pace, allowing for the best work to be done instead of only completing a haphazard job. He is self assured. He doesn't allow a comparison to another animal's style to mess with his own, proven way of working. He is dependable. He will not burn out. He is self aware. And he will finish the race — with pride and integrity and just the way he was meant to.

We all have times of being the tortoise. Currently, this is my season. And at first, I felt slightly downtrodden with my lack of speed and flash and the basic need to just keep moving along without the excitement of the first draft. But actually, it's okay. It's more than okay. Working steadily, at your own pace and in your own style leads to the best work getting done. It leads to something you can be proud of. A piece of art that is well produced.

Revision is not easy. It requires commitment, and it requires that we go through each sentence with a fine-toothed comb. But rushing isn't going to help anyone, and it certainly won't benefit the quality of your work. And ultimately, revision is about producing quality work. So if you're revising, or just feeling stuck in the mire of writing, or struggling to get started, just remember the story of the tortoise.
Remember he is admirable and smart, dependable and able. And then work at your own pace, knowing you will finish. Because you will finish, and with commitment and dedication, you will produce good work.

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