Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Love and Disappointment
Revision is the stage after drafting, before editing, where you search for all the opportunities in your writing – whether essay or story or poem – and realize them.God loves us - this is undoubted, but does He embrace having to revise us? Or is it a chore born of His love for us?
Revision is my longest and favorite stage.
To revise, I start by searching for the weakest, most confused sentence in my work. From the beginning to the end, I hunt meticulously until I find it.
I love finding that broken, shoulder-slumping sentence, because I know what’s coming. I get to take that sentence and cherish it into beauty. I smooth out anything that’s confusing. Strong verbs replace weak verbs. What it lacks, I add. What it doesn’t need, I prune. If it uses some word that’s par, I wrestle with dictionaries and pick through all my experience until I can furnish it with the best choice English offers. Sometimes, I wed it to an adjacent sentence with an elegant transition word that makes both better than they were alone. And if my sentence has great gobs of unnecessary words that drag it down, I slice them off. Anything that impedes the sentence doesn’t stand a chance when I have decided to revise. I leave no preposition unmeditated.
I don’t stop until my weakest sentence becomes my strongest sentence. I build it into whatever it has to be in order to say exactly what it has to say.
It echoes a God who works revision in my life. This search and renew mission is familiar, and you’ve heard the parable of the lost sheep often enough that I won’t waste your time articulating links. It would sound corny written out, anyway. My description of the revision process may already appear burdened with Christian homage, but I assure you I’ve only described the revision experience as it is when you really love what you’re creating. But maybe loving what you’re creating can’t help being a Christian homage.
I am not enough of a writer to talk about revision of my "works." Let's talk about my wood working. I start a project with a vision. I work meticulously to realize that vision. It goes very well. Then something goes wrong. An unseen flaw in a particular piece of wood causes it to crack. Most of my woodworking ends up as gifts. I have had some returned because they were broken in shipment. Do I love fixing this stuff? That is to say revising it? I love it and I love the people I am giving it to enough to put in the effort, but it always is a bit of a disappointment - it represents a plan gone awry - a compromise of the original vision. Once I am finished fixing the problem, the general observer will never know that it existed - but it is all I see when I look at the piece. It is restored, but it is no longer perfect.
But then I am not God. I cannot make the imperfect cracked piece of wood perfect again. God can. So, unlike my creativity, God's can be revised to its original perfect state. But I still cannot help but think that He is just a little disappointed that He has to bother. His vision was perfect.
I don't think that love erases disappointment, but love does overcome it. Love does not make flaws disappear, it embraces the flawed.
We fool ourselves if we think God is not disappointed that we need so, so much revision. The fact that He puts in the effort is the measure of His love, not His lack of disappointment.
disappointment love perfection revision