Revisiting old writing (Or, how I’m learning to love revising)

I have been keeping a paper journal for the past seventeen years. I have over one hundred paper journals in our basement, with years of memories, snippets of stories, and quotes galore. As I’ve said before, there’s a story that’s been percolating (or haunting me, take your pick) since 2010. Since that time, I’ve done a lot of hand written material for it, and those writings are tucked away in two specific journals. I used to use 750 Words (a great writing tool I highly recommend!), and have nearly a year and a half of writing from that, some of which was specific to this story. I probably have over a hundred pages of material to work with and go through, to find what may be relevant to what I’m working on.

What do I do with all of that writing!?

I will admit, up front, I do not have clear answers to this question. I rarely, if ever, go through my past journals. Usually, it’s to try to see what I was thinking about a situation or memory that comes to mind for some reason. I don’t usually go back through looking for pieces of writing. (I also rarely go back over essays and short answer test questions when I’m in the academic realm, but that’s another post, for another time.)

Flagged journals. Revisiting old writing is challenging.

The first thing that I am trying to do with the writing is to at least get it typed up. I have gone through my journals and marked with Post*It flags to mark where I specifically did writing either about or for this story. (I am one of those journalers who includes everything in her journal. I’ve tried keeping things separated, but it’s just too confusing for me.) When I scanned through the journals, I found it helpful that I had often marked “FICTION WRITING” when I specifically knew that I was going to be doing that type of writing.

I found the first part of that process, the flagging, invigorating. While there was some frustration with the ambiguity I talked about in my previous post, as inwhy haven’t I finished this yet?, I also recognized that there were some places I’d written myself into corners, other places where I was able to write myself out of them. Even just scanning through the entries, I saw there were lines of brilliance that I could work with, along with the dredge of just spewing onto the page.

It’s important to get through all of it. It’s the dredge that fertilizes the brilliance.

I’m not always one who likes to revisit writing. It’s one of the reasons I have not thought seriously about publication. I want to think that it’s okay and done when it gets out of my head and onto the paper. And, for the most part, I don’t share my writing, so it’s a moot point. But, recently, this type of blogging, with clearer focus thanlet me tell you about my day, has been an interesting leap into publishing, into writing with a distinct purpose. I think about these posts more than the off-the-cuff blogging I do at another site. And so, I am beginning to see the importance of revision, revising, and revisiting.

And, perhaps beginning this blog, Visible and Real, has helped me look at those journals and pages of writing as potential friends, catalysts, and opportunities, instead of giving them scared looks and running away. A new way to look at them, a new way to see what I’ve been doing. Revision, as they say, is re-seeing something, sometimes like it’s the first time.

I’ll let you know how the typing goes…

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2 thoughts on “Revisiting old writing (Or, how I’m learning to love revising)

  1. It’s the dredge that fertilizes the brilliance.

    I like that line a lot. Good luck with the typing! I find when I type up what I’ve written by hand, revisions just seem to come naturally. Keyboards demand more clarity than pens, I think. Pens just love to make marks on paper, dredge or brilliant. ;)

    • Thanks :) I often feel that way about my writing. And I agree, seeing it in Times New Roman (or whatever your font of choice is… mine is currently the Word default, Calibri) does demand more clarity, as opposed to simply moving across the paper.

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