Word count: 253 Reading time: 1 minute
I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again. – Oscar Wilde
Revise and revert: I know the exercise well. It’s not usually a simple comma that gets removed. More than once I’ve spent half a day revising a scene only to realize it was better before I started to play with it. I’ve torn whole books apart and rearranged them, only to put them back together again with the slightest of changes. Now that you mention it, I am thankful for the gift of word processing.
I say half a day but I can’t be sure. Time loses meaning when I’m swept away by a story, either the telling or retelling of it. As Mary Novik explained, through her character Pegge Donne, in Conceit: It was true that, when I picked up my pen, it was sometimes hours before I counted a minute gone. Like eating a fresh buttered pike, I could not stop until my belly cried out it was glutted.
Right now I’m revising a novel. For the fourth, fifth, or maybe even the sixth time? The fact is I love the characters and they drift around me like phantoms wailing to be heard. So when I pick up the hard copy to move a comma or two, the clock stops ticking and the walls recede.
Are you lost in any projects right now? What stops time for you?
Photo by: Kris Jacobs