Dagger in the Brain

A general question to the blogosphere. Is it bad form to revise past entries? Does it violate blog etiquette to be a revisionist? As I write this, I’ve decided that I’m going to do it anyway, but I reserve the right to change my mind again!

I don’t normally revise anecdotal entries where I’m just being playful or capturing events of the day that I find meaningful or funny. However, I feel the need to update a few things here and there that I consider to be bad, or that could be written more concisely or with a better flow. This is a symptom of a deep-seated lack of confidence in my writing. I know that my writing cycles between bad and passable, but I also know that to improve it, I need to do it and part of the doing is exposing it to others, or rather to expose other to it. It is fascinating to notice this dialogue in my head and to feel the dagger in my brain that compels me to return to a previous day’s work and modify it to my satisfaction.

Below is a snippet from an interview with Ernest Hemingway that fueled my entry today. As an adult, I don’t know if Ernest Hemingway’s writing is something I can appreciate or not. How can I say this? He’s a famous, well regarded author. Well, I simply don’t know if I like him.  It has been decades since he was required reading for me during high school. This snippet would have resonated with me regardless of the writer.


Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?

Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.

Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

Hemingway: Getting the words right. (Ernest Hemingway, “The Art of Fiction,” The Paris Review Interview, 1956)

And that’s that.

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

One response to “Dagger in the Brain

  1. zachandclem

    We do it constantly. Plans change, or become impossible, and we have to change past entries where we mention those plans, to save us the embarrassment of having to admit we didn’t plan like adults (which we really don’t). It’s different, it’s not prose. But when the writing is actually about beauty, editing and changing details is like a painter adding a few lines in his oeuvre; completely ok.

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