Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Testing assumptions

I took a writing workshop last weekend, and there was so much to it that it will take me a while to work through it all. One of the big take-home messages, though, was to be willing and open to fundamental revision. Not to get too attached to our words too soon. Not to think of revision as just polishing the draft we've already got down.

Everything is subject to change.

When I was in my mid-twenties and making some life changes, I reached the point where I was willing to question everything I thought I knew about myself: what I wanted out of life, what I was good at, what was best for me. I let go of assumptions and began to build back from the ground up. In some areas, I found that I wanted what I had always thought I wanted. Certain strengths and weaknesses were exactly where I had originally assumed them to be. But in other matters, I went in new directions. I tried new things, and they worked. I let go of other things and never missed them.

Change doesn't mean that what has come before was a waste of time, even if we spin 180 degrees in the other direction. It can be so hard to drop the baggage, but we are lighter without it.

6 comments:

  1. I've been thinking a lot here recently about the fact that I really didn't know what I wanted when I was younger. It took some mistakes for me to get on the right path. But I'm on it now, so that's all that really matters, right? =) And amen about everything being subject to change!

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    1. It does take a while to find the right path! And then sometimes even the right path reaches a fork ... and here comes the change. ;-)

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  2. Jennifer: I think one of the best reasons to remain open to change is that it's going to come, whether we're open to it or not. So we might as well practice being flexible enough to initiate or at least accommodate it, so that we can gain from it when it happens instead of running screaming in the opposite direction! Thanks for this post.

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    1. I'm usually not a big fan of unexpected change, but the nice thing about changing our books is that at least we can control the pace and direction of revision.

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  3. Letting go of things, including that "beautiful but not needed" prose is very freeing. And you're right, nothing's wasted. Every time I toss something that doesn't serve a book, I know I've learned from creating it and from deleting it as well.

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    1. A story is made up of words, and white space, and things that don't even appear on the page. ;-)

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