D.L. Koontz, Uncategorized

Romancing the Ideal, and Those Dreaded, Awful, Yucky, Mucky Rewrites

One of my favorite secular movies is Romancing the Stone.  It hooked me from the opening scene.

And what a scene it was! 

Kathleen Turner plays a romance novelist, Joan Wilder. When the story opens we hear her talking and typing out a story in the background, but on the screen we see her characters in action.

After the bad guy is killed and the heroine returned, smack-dab into the arms of her beloved cowboy, the camera fades to Turner sitting at her typewriter weeping uncontrollably. She types “The End,” blots her eyes, whips the last page out of the typewriter, drops it into a manila envelope addressed to her editor, and celebrates another book in the hopper.

Now that’s realistic, right?!


What a misleading portrayal of writing that scene depicts!

We need to bear in mind that whole plot/story is F-I-C-T-I-O-N.

Someone once told me that books are written in the 32nd revision; I’ve come to learn that it’s true.

Sol Stein, in his wonderful book, Stein on Writing, said he never met a great writer who didn’t mind rewrites.

I want to be one of those writers.  I want to enjoy the revision process.

I once read that Michaelangelo was asked how he created the Pieta.

His answer: “I simply chipped away everything that wasn’t the Pieta.”

Lucky for him, he could schlump on over to the quarry and find a chunk of marble to serve as his first draft.  He didn’t have to create his first draft like we do.

So, just write. Get the first draft done.  Create your chunk of marble first, then, chip away until you find the masterpiece within.

And chip, and chip, and chip until it’s done. And, furthermore, find joy in doing it!

And, for goodness sake, drop this notion depicted in Romancing the Stone of romancing the ideal contention that your first draft should be a masterpiece.

Instead, romance your way to a valuable piece of writing, regardless of how many revisions it takes.

What about you? Do you enjoy the revision process? How do you stay fresh and upbeat when rewriting?


Photo: bigstockphoto.com


7 thoughts on “Romancing the Ideal, and Those Dreaded, Awful, Yucky, Mucky Rewrites”

  1. omg!! I published my little story to my blog and yet I am still revising it. Being an amateur nothing is ever good enough and punctuation sucks!! I must let it go!! Thanks for your post!! A lot of blood and tears drip onto the page- or the keyboard!!


  2. Love it! Your post reminds me of this quote from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: “Now, practically even better news … is the idea of (shoddy) first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and third drafts.” Of course, Lamott’s original quote (w/o my censoring) probably describes most of my first drafts more accurately. 😉


  3. I’m glad you stopped by too, dune mouse. I’m generally not prolific either. I struggle to write many, many days. But I just keep at it, and so must you. One thing I know for sure: you can leave writing, but it won’t leave you. So, stick with it. Just write, no matter how crappy. Then go back and, as stated above, chip away! Thanks for stopping by.


  4. I’m glad I stopped by. I’m not a very prolific writer. The muse seems to overlook me – a lot. But when I get a story burbling up to the surface ( usually very short) I get very enthused and from where it comes I don’t know, but images inspire me greatly and then I want to put it into words and no matter how poorly I chip at the marble. Sometimes where I hit it a light shines through. My punctuation can be a bit lacking!!


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