The art of making difficult tasks easy. The grace of effortless work….Can I apply this to the process of revision? I wonder if revision is truly easy for any writer? (If it is for you, please let me know.) I am bombarded with questions when I revise: Is the plot moving forward? Are these characters whole, believable, likable? Do they come alive on the page? Does this sentence make any sense? When I am sweating over a manuscript, I wonder about my career choice, my sanity. Isn’t it considered unhealthy to obsess over something?
When I was in graduate school, I tended to get anxious over essay assignments. How can someone write a 20 page paper on a post colonial interpretation of The Tempest? Well, I had to write stuff like that. A boyfriend at the time reminded me I should take a sprezzatura approach to school, and I would feel a lot better. Well, at the time I thought, easy for you to say. You don’t have to write these papers! But, I followed his advice anyway. As my classmates sat around and commiserated on the latest academic nightmare, I smiled and said stuff like, “I’m enjoying this!” or “piece of cake” Lies. What they didn’t know is that I sobbed in front of my computer at night. Yet, over time, the writing started to move. My self doubt was no longer like a cacophony of condemnation. The more I convinced myself of the ease of the process, the easier it became. Never perfect, but better.
Now, the real test begins as I apply sprezzatura to the revision of my manuscripts. I’ve just begun the revision process for a contemporary YA novel….ease, beauty, grace….We shall see.