When I was in school, lo these many moons ago, the common wisdom was to save time at the end of the exam to review your answers.
I don’t know if that’s still the advice these days. But it never worked for me. I found that, if I went back and changed my initial answer, I nearly always changed it wrong. Seriously – the questions I’d miss on the test would be the ones I changed upon review.
I don’t know what this says about me, but I’ve noticed it in other areas of my life, too. The first time I try a recipe, it comes out perfectly. After that, not so much. When I try to photograph something, inevitably my first shot is the best. This generally works out fine for me. I prefer to be decisive – make a decision, commit to a course of action and have done – so my experience that my first attempt is usually the best reinforces that preference.
The downside of this is, I really don’t like revising.
In fact, I’ve become superstitious enough over the years about “changing my first answer,” that I fret that revising makes my story worse.
I know, I know. You hear that noise, like marbles clattering around in a jar of olive oil? That’s my critique partners rolling their eyes at me.
Revising is necessary. I understand that, here in my head. It’s my heart that gets all nervous about it.
I once had a John Irving quote that I cut out of a magazine somewhere, that I recall as being “I have learned to have no fear of revising.” I’m almost certain he said it about Cider House Rules. However, the closest I can come online is this one:
No, this isn’t religion, there’s no fear in changing the text.
Superstition and religion. Do I detect a recurring theme?
At any rate, I’ve nearly completed the revision of Act I of The Body Gift. I’m tossed between the exhilaration of seeing how much better the story flows now and genuine terror that I’ve ruined it forever.
(Yes, I know I can change it back – this isn’t rational.)
But, when they’re not rolling their eyes at me, my CPs are reading it and pronouncing it much better.
I don’t know if I get an “A” on it, yet, but at least I haven’t changed it wrong.