Reflections on Revisions
Focused, unsustainable attention.
I am two weeks away from turning in my book. My revisions have been nearly all-consuming for over two months now, and what they consume of me, my time, my energy, has increased with each week. This is the most extensive and reforming revision I’ve done (and hopefully will ever do) on my book, which is set to come out Spring 2024.
Every day I wake up at 530am, work, go for a little walk, work, go to the gym, work, and work, and work. I am either working on the book, teaching my classes, or taking my classes (and reading for my classes). I never thought I’d be able to revise like this while also in the first year of my PhD, and it turns out I can do it, but it certainly isn’t sustainable.
What I’ve discovered is: the practice of revising requires letting go. In order to find the shape that’s most supportive for my narrative, I must let go of the story I thought I was telling. I must let go of my reader’s hand and trust them to find their way. I must let go of any need to curate my own image, and I must choose a path that allows the deeper stories to come through— both my own story, and the larger story I’m telling.
My book is about my life as a hotshot wildland firefighter, but it’s also about abuse and addiction. My book is about the history of fire suppression in the United States, but it’s also about how fire was stolen from the hands of Indigenous people along with the land itself, and the consequences of that.
Because my topic is so timely, I often see stories in the news, and I want to engage with those stories, but instead I turn my attention back to my revision.
Revising is a practice in focused attention.
I’ll be honest. I’m exhausted. I very much look forward to spring break, which comes a week after turn in. I plan to drive to the ocean and lay in the sand. Go see manatees. Go for long walks. And sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
Then, I look forward to continuing my early wake ups (though not 530am wake ups).
What I’ve learned is: I have to prioritize my writing.
I look forward to pouring more of my energy into this sweet newsletter. And seeing more of you.
What are you working on? Struggling with? Succeeding at? Tell me in the comments.