Monday, March 16, 2015

You Can Always Change Your Mind--Letter 13

Dear Governor Ducey,
I don’t really believe in failed novels. Even if they’re stuck in a drawer, you can always pull them out, open up a chapter and start to revise. Revising sucks. Writing is one thing. It’s creative—in the sense that you are actually making something, and there are excellent surprises, and who knows which way your brain can turn? But revising is hard. It’s like self-criticism all day long. I wrote that? That doesn’t make any sense. Do people really talk like that? What in god’s name was I trying to say? I would say though, that although one may never sell the novel or best sell it, or even convince their friends to read the novel, the act of revising is good character building. That constant self-evaluation, forcing your self to see and re-see, means that you’re never 100% sure you’re right but that if you want to get something down on the page, you have to take a leap and commit something to paper. You will second-guess most things. You will rarely believe you are certain or perfect. You will never stick to one point of you—you can see things from all of them.

This differs, I think, from a politician, who has to pretend he sees things only one way in order to get his way. But what of a world where a politician named Doug Ducey put himself in my shoes and said, man, that sentence sucks. Or man, that one is OK but how it fits into this scene I’ll never know. Or who could step into my shoes, as I stand in front of my students and tell them, look. It’s going to take a long time to write this book. You write a draft. Then you come back and you add another layer and you add another layer. It is not logical. It is geological. But students, I tell you this is worth it because you’ve made a thing that is rich and multi-layered as the Grand Canyon. And because it’s so deep and multilayered, you can hike down that book and see this point of view. Hike down a little more and see that point of view. You have vision, long and short, which is not something you can say about many politicians, or this, in particular, governor. Re-vision is not your motto. But it should be.

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