In my capacity as an editor, I cannot count the number of times I’ve expected an author or illustrator to revise their work. The expectation for revision comes with every manuscript draft and with every batch of sketches. Revision is an integral and organic part of the writing and illustrating process. And with revision comes a final piece of writing or artwork that is as strong, as compelling, as meaningful, and as true as it can possibly be.
And so it is in life. Revision is an integral and organic part of the growing up process, the becoming-who-we-are process. Revising a manuscript or artwork can be frustrating and time-consuming. You just want to get it done already and isn’t it just fine as it is?! Revising oneself is just as frustrating and time-consuming, if not infinitely more so. To reconsider oneself, to make adjustments to oneself – surely that sort of self-examination is the hardest form of revision there is. And it can be the most empowering and ennobling form of revision there is. For don’t we want to be the strongest, most compelling, most meaningful, and most true people we can possibly be?
We don’t always recognize the opportunities life gives us in which to revise ourselves – the person who says, why don’t you just try it!, the conversation with a stranger on a plane that inspires a new idea, the chance meeting with someone whom we haven’t seen for many years, the unexpected loss of a job that forces us to think about what it is we really want to be, an illness that challenges us to pay attention to our bodily and spiritual health, the loss of a loved one that opens our eyes to how precious our time is here.
At first glance, we see so much of what life throws at us as either unimportant–trivial, silly, boring, nothing at all–or terrible–endless, hopeless, too hard, unfair. Much of my own world this year has spun off of its axis; such a tempest has made me aware of my own need to reconsider, modify, adjust. To revise myself in order to become whole and true. And I have to believe that in the process of finding my whole, true self that all that seems unimportant or terrible is, in fact, a necessary part of how we become who we are meant to be. Because it’s not enough to be done already nor are we supposed to be just fine. With revision comes revelation.
(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks llc