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A friend recently noticed a cane carved for me by my brother-in-law. And he wondered what kind of power tools he used. I told him I thought he didn’t use much more than a pocket knife and sandpaper. He said, "That would be a lot of work!" I too have hand carved several walking sticks, although not as beautiful as my brother-in-law’s. And I find that, though painstaking, the work can be very satisfying.

I feel the same about the process of editing something I have written. I used to fear editing because I am not especially good at it. But I am in the process of editing a novel after completing the rough draft. And I find honing and polishing rewarding. I have no doubt that I am improving my work. 

And while I try to saturate and punctuate all my writing with prayer, I actually pray more while editing. Especially with fiction, I try to get words down as rapidly as I can. At that point I do not pray or even think about how to say something. I admit that editing can be exhausting. But it is no less exciting or satisfying than writing a story in the first place.

In Letters and Life, on being a writer, on being a Christian, Brett Lott has a quote from John Berryman that I often put up where I can read it.

“You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve.”

I like this quotation. I wish I had it on a coffee cup. But it does not depict the best way to improve my writing. In fact, I often find it intimidating. I improve by polishing what I write. When I write a poem, I put it with my daily prayer lists, and pray over it everyday. I change a word or a line every few days for several months. This method produces better poems than I thought I could write. My writing only becomes readable as I polish it day after day.

Of course, I do not ruminate for months on my blog posts. But I never post one without waiting until the next day after completing it. And I always find ways to make them better.



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