"writing is rewriting."
when i was a kid, i loved reading. i’d read during class and i’d read before i went to sleep. i’d be content to read the entire summer if i was allowed to. then my parents signed me up for this summer camp.
it wasn’t really a camp though because we stayed inside. it was a church with a summer program where we had classes from morning until the afternoon with activities in between. it was a prison very much similar to school.
for my history class, we had to write a report on world war II. what’s worst than being assigned a paper in the summer is being assigned a paper on a summer friday.
i spent that entire weekend poring over books i borrowed from the library about world war II. i had no original thoughts or commentary on the war, so i just took bits and pieces of what the books had to say. it was a shoddy transcription.
i think my parents told me to just stop writing, but i couldn’t. it wasn’t a feasible option, i had to finish it. and i did.
on monday, i walked into the classroom and handed in my 10 pager and was relieved to be done with it.
then my teacher gave it back and i received high praise for it followed by the dreaded “but,” except this was the first time i ever heard it. i don’t remember exactly what she said. it was something along the lines of:
"…but, you’re going to have to rewrite it."
and something inside me snapped. i told her as eloquently as i could that there was no way in hell i was rewriting that paper.
my teacher took me out of the classroom and tried to lecture me on how rewriting was good. i wasn’t really listening because at that point i was crying. the last thing in the world i wanted to do was rewrite. it took everything i had to write anything.
throughout high school and college, i only wrote one draft of anything. sometimes, i’d get a B or an A but i took pride in that. imagine if i had a chance at a second draft, but i rarely took advantage of writing multiple drafts. i wish i had.
if i could go back, i’d rewrite that world war II paper and make it the best damn paper a 4th grader ever wrote on the subject. for all the books i read and loved, the author had already read it hundreds of times before my eyes ever saw the page.
rewriting was and still very much is reading.