Years ago, I came upon a slender little book titled My Editor, by M.B. Goffstein. It’s a poem of few lines, with simple, geometric illustrations, describing the process of working with an editor on revision.
I loved it so much I bought three, thinking of people I knew who might love it too. Now I only have one.
I’ve been thinking of it a lot, of late, going though the revision of The Next Novel, working with The Taskmaster (editor). The poem evokes the rewriting process as a construction site:
I begin to dig again, and lose myself in the excavation.
Of course the new creation isn’t quite right at first, and his editor sends him back to revise.
… my building worries me. It’s stone cold, and I cry, “Why not have left it wobbly?”
There is a feeling of integrity in the early drafts that is initially lost in revising, until, with time, a new integrity emerges.
Take it apart, and suddenly see how it goes.
This book is a treasure, and greatly heartening.