I am in Boston on the edge of my annual writing retreat…it’s shocking to think that this group has been getting together for something like seventeen years. Our lives, our writing, our despairs, our soaring bits…they are woven together. Nancy Werlin and I went to Dian Curtis Regan’s wedding in Colorado Springs this summer, for example. And now we’re together as our writer selves.
We are ready to talk (or I am, anyway) about chickens and how they fit or don’t fit into our scenes. We are ready (or I am, anyway) to revise.
I used to hate it.
Sometimes I still do.
Adding a shake of a spice here and a little crunch there.
One of my favorite books talks about revision in terms of appetite. We have some vague understanding of our readers’ appetite for a bit of color here and a change of pace there and some tension or some laughter. Ingredients.
We sample and taste and say, “Hmmm. Needs something.” We try something new. We sample and taste again.
Sometimes we ask our skilled reader friends to take a taste.
The Vermont College MFA program where I teach understands the power of good readers who will talk about what’s happening to them as they read our words–the movies in their mind, as one writing guru puts it.
It’s exciting. When kids ask me, “Who’s your favorite author?” I talk about this group of writers. Generous. Warm. Funny. Tough.
When I was a kid growing up in Ethiopia and going to a small school, I never met any authors. I never even thought about the authors of the books I loved. And now I get to learn from authors.
Bring on the despair. And the joy. And the chickens.