My Relationship with Revision

July 31, 2022

Neema Ejercito (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer

 

From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved revising. From the nit-picking of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to deleting entire paragraphs and rewriting sections of a paper, I have always loved to revise. So much so that my dream job used to be editor-in-chief. Of what medium? It didn’t matter, as long as that was my title. But then I talked to a writer friend who is the opinion editor of a Philippine periodical and heard her complain about what a drag it was to be an editor to these senior males who thought she was far too much of a nube to correct their spelling, much less their clarity in expression. She complained about the desk job and wished she were “out there” writing again, covering stories. That’s when I really wondered if that was the kind of dream job for me.

 

I realized that it was not. I wanted to keep writing and revising until the day I died. No retirement for me. Retirement is such an ‘80s concept to me anyway. I read an article on Flipboard that talked about how retirement has become somewhat dated and how the trend is now to work till you drop. I didn’t even need to know it was a trend to realize that I was going to die writing. I was even thinking the other day how I could make a sci-fi story of a future where senior writers simply had to speak to a device that typed for them what they were saying, instead of struggling to get their thoughts down on paper or on the screen with their arthritic hands.

 

So my relationship with revision has always been positive. And yes, for me it’s normal to berate myself a bit when I realize I’ve made a typo. But for some reason, I am easier on myself when the revision requires a more or less complete overhaul of what I’ve written. I think that’s because I’ve discovered a way to somehow feel like I keep all that I write. Per piece, I have a Notes entry on what I delete. That way, should I ever need that brilliantly-composed-but-must-delete section, I have quick access. Have I ever used them? Once, at most. But it makes me feel more comfortable letting go of what I wrote, since I know where to find it. I got the concept from parenting advice columns that would talk about having playdates at the house. Ask your child what toys they would absolutely not want to share and put those away. That way, you reduce the stress on yourself and everyone for having your child unprepared to have their favourites played with by someone else.

 

That being said, a weakness in my love for revision is when I get caught up in perfection. I focus more on the correct placement of a comma and the proper use of a period sometimes than on the content. I eat my own words of allowing myself to write freely when I keep correcting what I write, valuing correctness over communication. It’s even affected how I read other people’s work sometimes.

 

I’m glad I’m a bit looser about that weakness now, but it’s still something I continually work on: not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. I don’t ever want to be turned off from writing because of the “wrong crowd,” but there was a time when I really questioned all the years of writing and maturing I’d done in my craft because I believed certain, truly uninfluential-in-my-craft people. True enough, I found my way back when I focused on improving on my craft instead of listening to them. So glad to be back.

 

I know I will still veer off the path from time to time, but I’m glad to say my relationship with revision continues to grow. I feel that revising is always a step in the right direction. I don’t have to rush it; I just have to take the first step. Always. 

 

 

Neema Ejercito is a professional writer, director and creative writing mentor. Her 3D edutainment series for beginning readers, AlphaBesties, is showing in YouTube Japan and Prairie Kids. When she’s not writing or mentoring, she manages her household with her very supportive husband and three children.

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