The Tyranny in Novelty


As a writer, it can be liberating to no longer feel the pressure to create something new. You know the voice: “Hey, you. Mr. Writer. It’s been a few days (weeks, months) since you wrote anything new. What kind of writer do you call yourself, anyway?”

A smart one, if you plow more writing time into revision. Writing is revision, they say, yet, too often, we heed the siren call of creating the new instead. It’s flashy and cool like a red sports car. It’s what makes us “writers,” a name easier to assume than live up to.

Compared to the red sports car, constantly revising the old looks like Dad’s Buick. You’re tired of that poem, story, essay, or chapter. You’d prefer not working on it anymore. You crave the sound of screeching wheels and the smell of burning rubber as the new little sports car fishtails once and jumps forward — forward into the future!

Here’s a hint about revision: the need is heralded by any given work’s rejections in the market place. Once it comes home to Daddy five or more times, it becomes a symptom instead of a piece of writing. An object of need.

Think of the market as a physician trying to tell you something: Stop creating new when you’re not quite done with old. Open your myopic eyes. Seek the imperfections that others are clearly seeing.

Revision can be leavened with “new,” too. Try novel ingredients by adding. Note a new look by deleting. Move words and sentences around. Make a sports car of yesterday’s wheels through the gentle art of reconsidering.

Liberate yourself from the tyranny of constant novelty. Think of revision as the color red, then, and — who knows? — maybe it will be read, then accepted by the notoriously negative marketplace.





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