There is no great writing, only great rewriting. ~ Justice Louis Brandeis
I realized earlier today that the last magazine article I submitted had been rewritten at least twenty times.
It started out as a 500-word newspaper column, printed almost nine years ago, when I was a total newbie to writing and absolutely terrified of what people were going to think about what I had to say.
When I re-read it last week, I could feel all of that old, perfectionistic tension oozing out between the words. Though I still love and value the idea that sparked the piece, reading it again so many years later was almost painful. It really wasn’t good, at all (despite the fact that hours and hours and at least a dozen revisions must’ve gone into that draft, and an editor found it print-worthy).
The piece I submitted to the magazine barely resembles that first article. I almost completely rewrote it, keeping just one whole original sentence and half of another one. It’s now more insightful, but less rambling. It flows easily with a more personal voice, instead of the choppy “just the facts, ma’am” flavor of the original.
At a writer’s conference years ago, I was advised to edit the stories I’ve already written and submit them anew. So, I’m taking that advice and doing that now. It only took me the better part of a decade to take the leap, but I’m finally at a place in life where I’ve gathered enough confidence to give it a go. I figure, “Why not? What’s the worst anyone can do? Mark it up in red pen and send it back?”
Hey, let them do that. Then I’ll learn something to make it better, and I’ll rewrite it.
And probably again.