Sometimes I am a liar when it comes to talking the Joy of Revision with my writing students.
You can do it, I say. You can write a book. Write a messy first draft. Figure out what you have and what you need. Revise. Rinse. Repeat.
I show them one of my drafts as an example. An array of colorful post-its.
Look! It's not so difficult! Sometimes it's even fun! And my students nod along, inspired, I think, to try it for themselves.
I do the same kind of thing when I talk about my garden. I post glorious close-ups of my veggies on social media. Lovely cauliflowers and darling pea pods and gorgeous purple cabbage.
It's not so hard to grow a garden, I tell my friends with less greener thumbs. Scatter a few seeds here and there. Water. Weed. Repeat.
Okay. I don't completely lie. I admit to throwing out entire chapters, to fighting resistance each morning and girding myself to settle down to my day's writing
to battling slugs
But I tend to do this in a funny way. Glossing over the sweaty details. Joking about the actual WORK involved, the TIME
The worm that ate the hell out of the cabbage growing right next to the lovely cabbage picture above.
The days I sit in front of my computer writing and rewriting the same paragraph a hundred times and then scrapping the entire thing.
The caterpillars on my kale
The mornings I rant and whine and moan to my critique partner,
the self-doubting--and sometimes, self-loathing
The creepy purply mold on my cauliflower
The times when I've finished up a revision of a revision and think what I have is the best piece of writing I've ever done and I send it off into the world and it sinks like a stone, unread-- or worse, read and passed on
and I wonder how I will ever find the energy or courage or discipline to start writing another story
The pathetic patch of cilantro after a heavy rainstorm
But, somehow, I do begin another story
Because it is what I do
It's what I do.