Writers on Revision



“Half my life is an act of revision.”–John Irving


“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.  You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”    –Robert Cormier



“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer.  But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”–Colette




“As you continue writing and rewriting, you begin to see possibilities you hadn’t seen before.  Writing is always an act of discovery.”–Robert Hayden


“A work in progress quickly becomes feral.  It reverts to a wild state overnight.  It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you can’t catch.  It is a lion you cage in your study.  As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength.  You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it.  If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room.  You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, ‘Simba!'”–Annie Dillard

Arthur Plotnik




“We edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”–Arthur Plotnik

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