There’s a story that a Hollywood producer handed Gore Vidal a screenplay of one of his books and asked him to revise it. After reading it, Gore said: “This screenplay doesn’t need a revision- it needs a trip to Lourdes.”
Are you a perfectionist? Do you write, revise and rewrite until you get your sentences right? According to Julia Cameron:
“Perfection has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough- that we should try again. It is pride that makes us want to write a perfect script, paint perfect painting, perform a perfect audition monologue.”
But haven’t we also heard many a times that stories and books are not written – they are rewritten.
So who to believe? Could they all be right?
“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” Dorothy Parker
“I have written- often several times- every word I have ever published.” – Vladimir Nabokov
“The wastepaper basket is the writer’s best friend.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer
But then Shirley Jackson wrote ‘The Lottery’ in a morning and sent it, unrevised, as is, to The New Yorker that same afternoon.
There is not one specific way to do it. Different writers use different methods to write, revise or rewrite their books. The general notion however is that good writers do revise and rewrite their manuscripts until they get it right.
“A lot of writers say writing is misery. You’ve heard all that. I don’t believe that at all. I am not happy when I’m not writing, and I’m quite happy when I am writing, even if it’s not going well. People say that I write quite simply, but they don’t realize how much I rewrite.” Brian Moore