Revising That Living and Breathing Thing

I follow this cool poet on twitter, @monetwithlove. She’s always tweeting out these self-deprecatory things or little supportive, writerly-type tips. The other day, she sent out a survey asking writers which is harder: revisions or beginning something new. I’ve always found revisions to be harder… maybe because often I’m not completely comfortable with how to approach a new piece that doesn’t know what it wants to be yet. Is it crazy that I see each piece as a living and breathing thing with its own identity? That I don’t want to poke it too hard for fear I’ll injure it somehow? I have a classmate who’s focusing on the topic of revisions for her craft presentation and I think that’s an excellent idea. I’ll share notes from her lecture here when I have them. In the meantime, here are some images of ways I attempt to stumble through my own revision process.

At the Slice Literary Conference, September 2018

I was honored to be awarded a scholarship to this year’s Slice. I’ve attended writing conferences before, but this 2-day event was a first for me. As an introvert, I forget how hard they are: the meeting and the small-talk and the attempt to discuss my work in a way that sounds halfway coherent.

I approached a stranger after a panel about writers igniting change – a female Somali-born writer who now lives in Seattle – and failed at an attempt to verbalize my ideas and connect with her. I made me feel discouraged. It made me not want to go back for the second day. But I also didn’t want to quit. I remembered how inspired I felt after Alexander Chee’s and Porochista Khakpour’s joint keynote. Alexander Chee said his novel, Queen of the Night, took 15 years to finish. He said, “I had this habit of erasing my accomplishments”.

I realized sometimes it’s just about changing my mindset and just making it about the journey. I try to keep an updated list of my accomplishments for the days when I feel exhausted; when nothing I do or say (or write) ever seems good enough. It comes in handy.