I walked through my local art museum a couple weeks ago and saw a Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro collection. I was struck by seeing drafts of the same etchings side by side. I expected to only see the final versions. The information box said that the artists, “gave their working process much greater visibility” by showcasing the revisions of the same etching.
I wondered how can this valuing of revisions apply to writing?
As a poet, I love reading the revisions and edits that well-known poets make in their poems. They sometimes share their writing process on Twitter. No matter the differences between these poets’ and my successes in poetry, I relate to them when I see how writing is a process for them.
When we only see writers’ final writing products, the readers (who are also writers) for the most part, don’t get to see the writer’s journey. Sometimes I forget that even the most successful writers also revise their writing.
Going back to my museum visit, the etching revisions went from outline to more outline to more shade and became more detailed. The final product was different from each of the draft etchings. I wonder does this make a writing draft a product that can stand on its own? It may not be polished, but is it still a product of value?
I’m still thinking about the idea of giving our drafts the same value as our final drafts. Not all readers would be interested in reading the drafts of their favorite books, articles, or poems. But the writer readers would probably be interested in the writing drafts just as much as in final drafts as a way to learn from the craft and apply writerly wisdom to their own writings.
What do you think about this?
Hi, my name is Andrea, and I am an English Language Arts teacher who loves reflecting over the truth, beauty, and wisdom I find through reading, journaling, and teaching. The Hummingbird’s Journal is where I collect these reflections. Feel free to join me on Twitter where I retweet (more than I tweet) all things funny, enlightening, artsy, and poetical.