Friday, April 29, 2011

Another Writing Pep Talk

Magical Keystrokes

As a kid I loved a musty old copy of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! that we kept in the basement. One of my favorite stories in its yellowed pages was that of a condemned man whose life was saved by punctuation.

"Pardon Impossible. To Be Sent To Siberia," read the telegram deciding his fate. His wife intercepted the message and altered it to read, "Pardon. Impossible To Be Sent To Siberia," saving him from exile and certain death.

I got shivers when I read that story, my first introduction to the magical power of revision. When we, (that's you and me, fellow writers,) when we tackle our writing for a second or third or ninth time, alchemy can happen. Sodden prose and limp dialogue can become infused with light and motion. Your writing work is not far from that of a professional magician - it takes much practice and revision work to cast a spell of effortlessness, but it is possible.

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