Revision and Saving Trees

One of my favorite authors is Avi. Here is a quote from an interview he did. Go here if you want to read more:

“I can’t tell you how many schools I have visited all over the United States, and I’ve never been in a school that teaches writing the way professional writers do – because they can’t. When I write a book, before it’s published, it’s rewritten 60 or 70 times. You’re not going to get a child to do that. It would be a form of abuse, for goodness’ sake. The great problem in teaching young people to write is that there’s a tendency to respond to the child’s work as a whole. And I think that the only effective way to teach writing is to break it down into its constituent parts. ‘Let’s talk about the ideas. Let’s talk about the story. Let’s talk about characterization, talk about spelling, talk about grammar.’ All of that’s useful, but not all at the same time.

“If this kid has poured his heart out in a poem, and then to say, ‘Wow. It’s okay, but there’s a dangling participle in paragraph two,’ what does that do to the child’s writing? It’s not to say that there’s not a dangling participle. And don’t ask what a dangling participle is, because I don’t know. It’s that the child’s first response is, ‘I’ve tried to do something emotional, and I’m trying to communicate.’ And you need to respond on those levels first, and you need to respond generously.”

Interesting, he rewrites a book 60-70 times before publication. I think Jane and I are doing that. We rewrite/revise all the time as we go along. I’m hoping to be able to print off a copy in the near future. As yet, I’ve only printed off two partial manuscripts (plus 15 pages for a submission) because we just keep making changes. At least we’re saving trees.

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