This past week, I am reminded of just how darn difficult revision can be.
This past week, I've been sitting with an essay that I need to submit to an essay writing workshop I'm taking at The Lighthouse Writers. While I spent some time over the last six months revising and doing a bit of writing, I had not really sat with the hard work; I could always quit when it got too difficult and put the work aside.
When I started doing the final hard sitting, the digging into this revision, I promised myself that I wouldn't get up, no matter how difficult it got; I wouldn't get up until I'd done some work on the piece. And so I stared at the beginning of the essay, an opening that I knew wasn't working. I stared. Nothing. Nothing. Feeling the pressure of a looming workshop deadline, feeling the pressure of a group of writers that I never took a class with (how will I measure up), and feeling the goddamned pressure of doubting my writerly self, I decided to simply skip the beginning and work on a sentence level, measuring words and their meaning. Hard. Slow. I had forgotten that getting a few sentences right might take more than an hour.
After four hours of sitting and revising, I quit for the evening, knowing that tomorrow would bring more time to dig in and do the work. When I was on the edge of sleep for the evening, the new beginning came to me, at least a sentence of it. Rather than ignore, as I much prefer to do when sleep is luring me, I got up and scribbled a quick note. The next afternoon, when I sat again in front of the computer, I smiled at my scribbles, glad to have a way into a new start to the essay. Easier. Not so slow. And then, I got stuck again, staring at a sentence, seeing its weakness, unable to move beyond.
This is how it's gone for the last week. Sometimes, it's a fun romp through my words, able to swiftly cut parts and let go of that which is just not working. Other times, I grow impatient, wanting the essay to be done and perfect, tired of sitting in the slow work of revision. Patience. I remember.