It has occurred to me, in the last ten weeks of my final quarter at Wright State, that not only is writing, in large part, made possible by revision, but also, life. When I was younger, my mom would always say to me, "Give it time, Stephi, you're going to change, your tastes will change, your desires will change, your heart will change. You'll totally change." I remember thinking, in a state of utter horrification, that I did not want to change; my tastes, desires, and heart were just fine, thank you very much. At this time in my life I look back on those feelings, I remember that conversation, which I assure you has been had over, and over, and over again, and I realize that, surprise, surprise, mom was right.
My feelings towards re-working my writing has been, in large part, very similar to my initial feelings on any emotional or bodily change - I didn't want to do it and no one was going to make me. I have always been a girl that keeps journals; I have journals from elementary school that are filled with secret crushes that never came to be, who my current best friend was and why, and dreams I had that seemed appropriate to be writing about. When I look back on journals I've kept through the years they have progressed from secret crushes, to real life heartbreak, to poetry, and now to prayer. Since my Sophomore year of high school I have known I wanted to write for a living. Even now, having finished a degree in Creative Writing, I still answer with "I want to write" when asked what I what to do with my English degree, and still, I get a typically shocked response of "Well that's interesting . . ."
Only recently have I taken these dreams of wanting to write and applied them to actual writing. Wright State's Creative Writing program found me wholly unprepared at receiving critiques and terribly defensive of the art I put on the page. My first actual fiction class proved to be more enjoyable than I first thought, but still with an unwavering sense of dread at the idea of revision - so I simply did not do it.
At twenty-one I was facing the end of a relationship with a boy and a great deal of time ahead of me spent trying to figure out who I might be without this person, who I might be with a new person, or just who I might be, period. It occurred to me that I was going to be 'changing,' I was going to be having to partake on an adventure of revision. It is clear to me, in looking back on this time of my life, that I realize it was meant to be an entire few years filled with revision. From twenty-one to twenty-four I have changed my tastes, my desires, my heart.
My final quarter at Wright State I had the privilege of taking Creative Non-Fiction and it awakened and affected me more than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. I've always been a big reader, but memoirs and non-fiction books weren't really on my radar in a large capacity. Entering this class I expected to work more on my "craft" and walk away being thankful for workshop practices; I couldn't have been more wrong. An entire genre of writing was brought to my attention; masterful, beautiful writers were placed in front of my eyes and I found myself so hungry for essays, memoirs, anything that would fit into this genre. With each essay I produced for this class I was met with a feeling of confirmation that I had found my niche.
With this new genre found I also realized how much I enjoyed revision, for the first time in my life. With each essay I was exploring changes in my life, in my personality and I would read and re-read pieces and try to think of ways to make each word, each paragraph, each page better. It occurred to me that I had, in fact, found my place.
I won't go as far as to say that I look forward to change, I just don't think that sort of feeling is in my DNA, but it has slowly been revealed to me that change and revision aren't as bad as I had thought it to be in the first place. It is apparent that without change, without revision, each piece of writing is just a fragment of a thought and each person is just a fragment of a heart.
So I stand, or sit, before you today, typing this and realizing that, I am made possible, my life has been made possible, by revision. Lots and lots and lots of revision.