Wet clay

revision 2So this is what it looks like when Human starts to turn last week’s entry into something instructive. She starts by cutting all the irrelevancies. What’s left is highlighted.

Trouble takes issue with the cuts immediately, noting that they are all references to her. Whose blog is this?

Human points out that “Trouble” is only half the title, and this is a demonstration of how a written flight of fancy can be revised for a quite different purpose.

Trouble turns around a couple of times and settles Underdesk with a decided harrumph.

decided harrumph

A decided harrumph

It’s a common but erroneous idea that good writers spit out nearly perfect texts first time. In fact, good writers write first drafts (Anne Lamott minces no words, and calls them “shitty first drafts”). Then they work and rework them into something good. It’s a bit like making pots: you have to assemble a big messy lump of clay to start with. Sometimes you have too much, and sometimes you need to add more, but that first lump never looks like the finished cup or vase.  There’s a lot of moving and removing done to reach the final product. Sometimes there’s not much left. No wonder I sigh.

draftI print out what’s left, defying the limits of the screen. As soon as I reread it, I want to start tidying it up. Since I cut with something more like an axe than a scalpel, there are a lot of rough edges. There’s no point, however, in suturing the bits together, if the bits aren’t all in right places. So I sit on my hands (literally) and look at it again, trying to see the shape of a vase in a heap of wet clay.

Park bench

Trouble’s version of sitting on her hands

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One thought on “Wet clay

  1. Fredericton

    That “harrumph” picture is priceless, but don’t tell Trouble, she already knows how handsome she is.

    Reply

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