The Habit of Writing: More Than Carefully Arranging Words

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I don’t write new work every day, but I’m constantly at work on my writing, no matter what type of writing it is–and it’s mostly revision. An essential feature of my approach to writing is mental work and engagement.  What I want to touch on today has to do with the routine or habit of writing, and in particular, writing fiction. Continue reading

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This Is A Work Of Fiction

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Various friends have read and commented on versions of a short story that began in September last and grew into something entirely different over the six months of its evolution. No one yet has had the nerve to tell me that it’s pap and ought never to see the light of day. They’re leaving that happy task up to the journals. However, one question each reader asked with a sense of astonishment is, Did you really do this?

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Revision Is Premeditated Murder

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – wholeheartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing, 1916


My short story is in a wonderful tangle at the moment because I began to revise before I completed it. At the time this made all kinds of sense, primarily because the story required some tinkering on point of view. My experiment on expanding the point of view to two characters’ observations, thoughts, impressions and emotions seemed like a good idea at first but as the story progressed, one character’s perspective began to dominate. The draft needed some clarity in this respect. It was an easy fix that would have taken little time to correct. Then, I should have been on my merry way.

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