Thoughts on Revision

The first drafts I wrote were really terrible, pretty rough works that reeked of grammatical errors and loose ends that needed cleaning up, some gaping holes left unexplored, and a couple of flat characters.  The very act of writing the stories was less daunting than revising them; confronting the stories for revision carries a much conscious responsibility – in steering the plot or fine-tuning the characters to create a certain kind of depth.  Yet amidst all these editing woes, revising the stories can be as pleasurable as writing them.  The American short story writer and novelist Bernard Malamud once said in his lecture delivered in Bennington College entitled Reflections of a Writer that “Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.”  True enough, sometimes it gets me excited when I come across symbols and metaphors, and I’d tell myself, “Hmmm, I didn’t notice this before,” and then it makes me enthusiastic to develop a certain angle from which the readers can latch upon based on that guiding light, that consciousness.

To fine-tune a certain character is also an exciting activity – I get to know a lot more of this character as if he/she were a former friend, slowly revealed to me in full recognition through revision.

Sometimes my characters had their own ways of escaping the capricious plans I laid out for them, and so they set out a new story for me.  This is a good thing that can happen to a writer, surprisingly so, when I realized that a story can engender another story.

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