Maybe limiting the editing process isn’t such a good idea, even in a blog. I read over yesterday’s piece last night and was appalled by my overall emphasis: Save the Louisiana coast for the FOOD!!!! I particularly love crawfish etoufee being Cajun myself, but I see now that I wrote more about the food and not enough about the people, the culture, and the environment. The issue goes far beyond menu options, and I need to call attention to that.
Although sometimes whole essays or stories present themselves as full entities, these occasions are rare for me. I need to revisit a piece of work several times before putting it out for public consumption and it’s still flawed.
But I’m looking forward to the rewrite process. It’s both lure and reward. Writing is organic. It grows and I love to watch it grow. When I first sit down, I’m excited to see what happens. I throw words and ideas down, conscious of, but not worried about, clarity, connection, conciseness. At this point, I don’t stress too much because I know there are forgotten angles, structural screw-ups, words misused, people offended. It’s on the revisits that a piece develops and deepens, and for me, that’s where the fun is. I am seduced by the promise of discovering something in my head I didn’t know was there the first time around. Returning to the work leads into “epiphany.”
This self-enlightenment can only come from setting aside a project and letting it percolate. That’s trite, but it’s dead-on accurate. While the first draft is locked in my subconscious (the brain’s back burner) , I go about my life. It cooks. I forget about it. Then I come back. The act of moving it out to the front of the stove (the brain) is rewarding. What do I have here? I made this? Let me taste it. Has the flavor of the dish (story/essay) deepened? What spices (a sex scene, more conflict, a startling fact) will it need to be better? What in the world have I forgotten? The best and most gratifying part is, if it isn’t just right, gumbo or essay, I can usually fix it!!!