Posts tagged "revision"

Zooming In [Draft by Draft]: The Narrowing Lens of “Stranded”

for my father The summer I turned six, I sat on the stinging concrete of our driveway in Lubbock, Texas, with a pair of new roller skates and a book about skating (I don’t remember the title—Amy Learns to Skate?). While my father mowed the backyard, I laced up my white skates and opened the...

Come On In: The Writing’s Fine

I stared out my writing-room window, watching our yard transformed into a meteor crater. Enormous piles of dirt lined the edge of a twenty-four-foot wide, two-foot deep circular hole. The Bobcat had tracked a swath of sand across the yard to the fence. It was a beautiful mess. Two months ago my spouse and I...

Writing the Truth in Memoir: Don’t Skimp on Objectivity

My ex-husband didn’t love me. He was mean and selfish, and sometimes even cruel. The day he left, I found dating profiles on his computer along with e-mails from other women. He didn’t work for longer than a year at a time, and he drank like he deserved to. He spent most of our three-year...

Revision Advice from the Judges’ Table

Writers are connoisseurs of criticism. At least, this is how I justify some of my love for the television program Top Chef. Each week the show’s “cheftestants” compete in cooking challenges judged by professional chefs, restaurateurs, food critics and celebrity guest-judges. Every episode features moments of creation and revision, as the chefs plan, execute and...

The Shared Space Between Reader and Writer: A Case Study

I often teach classes on the form of the “hermit crab” essay, a term Suzanne Paola and I used in our textbook Tell It Slant. Hermit crab essays adopt already existing forms as the container for the writing at hand, such as the essay in the form of a “to-do” list, or a field guide,...

The Editor at the Breakfast Table

I groaned. I sighed. Beneath the table, I pounded my fist on my knee. The old man was at it again: editing one of my papers for class. “Now, I know this is tough,” he would say, “but this will make you a better writer.” Then, cruel as a Cossack, he would slash through a...

Here Be Digital Dragons: Lucid Writing Requires Mental Maps

That slight tremor on August 15, 2013—which passed without much notice in the rest of the world—was the earth shifting at The Georgia Review. On that day we began accepting electronic submissions. On August 18th an essay came in online that caught my eye. But after I read it a couple times, I found myself...

Forest in the Trees: The Challenges of Shaping a Book (not a Collection) of Essays

In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard seems to warn writers away from embarking on a collection of individual works: “…[S]ince every original work requires a unique form, it is more prudent to struggle with the outcome of only one form—that of a long work—than to struggle with the many forms of a collection.” As someone...

Not Every Sentence Can Be Great But Every Sentence Must Be Good

In “Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year” (The New Yorker online, July 9, 2012), Michael Cunningham, one of the three Pulitzer fiction jurors for 2012, wrote the following about sentences: – I was the language crank, the one who swooned over sentences. I could forgive much in a book if it...

Becoming Your Own Best Critic

I worry when a person announces proudly that they’ve done a serious revision of something they wrote. Usually, that means they’ve proofread it with style sheet in hand, getting rid of, for example, a lack of agreement between a pronoun and its antecedent, like the lack of agreement I have in the first sentence with...