Writing is Re -writing – or not?

 

Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride
Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride. Photo : rmit.edu.au

‘We do not write. We re-write. Sometimes long after publication, in our fatigued heads. This is not a matter of initial sloppiness, or compensation for a lack of brilliance via hard work. Isaac Babel could write up to forty drafts of a single story. Sherwood Anderson said that some of his stories took him ten or twelve years to write. Re-writing is crystallization of a thought. Or excavation. Or – writing.’ So says Lee Kofman, author and writing mentor.

– excerpt from Lee Kofman’s blog leekofman.com.au

Yet today I read of a highly successful author who often writes 100 pages without either re-reading or re-writing. She is Elena Ferrante, whose novels have been described as ‘masterpieces’. Further bucking the trend, she refuses to self-promote by giving interviews, public talks, or other marketing strategies. Which just goes to show, once again, that rules, especially writing rules, were meant to be broken – if, like Ferrante, you can get away with it.

In my own writing, I have completed draft after draft of my novel, Capriccio. Each  new version is subtly different from the others. The aim is to have a perfect manuscript before submitting it to publishing houses. But I sometimes wonder, after all this work, are the earlier versions somehow fresher, because they’re less worked over?

What are other writers’, or readers of this blog, thoughts on rewriting? Please share your writing practices here ! 📝📃📚

 

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Author: dinadavis2015

Writer, editor, lover of literature

10 thoughts on “Writing is Re -writing – or not?”

  1. For me, freshness is very important, because of my style of writing. For that reason, I prefer nowadays, not to do too many re-edits, as I have been writing for a very long while, and I know myself when things are not right. That said, I appreciate edits from “detail” writers, as I tend to want to focus more on the whole, and see if the plot and characters are working in together, wholistically. In other words, we all need both, the forest and the trees.

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    1. Well said, Anne. The first drafts are best straight from the heart, unedited. In other words, as close as possible to the ‘Unconscious’, a concept discovered by the great Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. The closer we writers can get to that source of raw inspiration, the more powerful our work will become. However in subsequent drafts it’s more the conscious mind, which Freud called the ‘Ego’, that takes over the creative process, honing and refining the raw material of that first draft.

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  2. oh man-do I hate rewrites. Hahaha. I started as a playwright-where rewrites are imperative and expected. I studied under a few notable playwrights who had very different ideas on this subject. Emily Mann, rewrites sometimes until the day before the show. And Edward Albee, said he never rewrites anything. I fall somewhere in the middle. Rarely do I have a giant scene or chapter overhaul. But I may change the dialogue to propel the story/action further and keeping the bones the same. I’m so impatient that perhaps my final product suffers in my need to be “done.”

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  3. Well re -writing and re-reading is the most important part of writing. Sometimes i am sitting alone reading my old blogs or poems I find minute details that I should rectify. Writing is an art that needs contant rectification. That’s wonderful part of re-writing expanding your bounty of your art ☺

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    1. So true, but being a perfectionist, I’ve been known to go too far in over-correcting. Then I realised that a work of art, be it a painting, a poem, an essay or a novel, is never truly finished. After 20 drafts of my last novel, I stopped making changes, only to revisit the last draft to tweak it here and there, and hey presto! draft 21 appeared. Only a publishing contract could put a stop to this endless re-writing.

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      1. Hi Dina ! I am just a beginner. When I was 13 that was the first time I wrote my first poem for my School yearly newspaper. Fortunelty My english teacher Ms. Joe was amazed as I always have been a quite, nerd student in my school life. And after that I took part in few interschool writing competition. Being a blogger and getting a platform as a writter scared me to death. Thou I heard my inner was and started sharing what my heart has. But still the question remains the same! Am I good enough or Am I smart enough to connect with people who are far better more experience then I am. You might be thinking why am I sharing this with you. I just felt I connect with your writing. Your blogs. I re-read your reply and thinking how should I share my fears. Then may be i was being coward! I choose truth. I don’t know anything about writing. But I know its one thing that makes me happy and peaceful. One day I do wish to publish my own novel. But I need to learn first. I guess. Thank you for your wonderful blogs Dina :)

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        1. Dear Panktishukla,
          Thanks for your comments. Like you, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eight. Now books and writing are my whole life, and I’ve finished my first novel. Believe in yourself, and keep writing. I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog.

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