Last fall, I became a college professor. That’s part of the reason this blog was rather quiet for a while. From September to December, I was fully immersed in studying required texts, drafting lectures, making tests, and reading papers. I’ll never know which lessons stuck with my students. But I do know one thing for sure. I learned a TON!
Now that the first semester is behind me, I realize how much the experience was like the first draft of a writing project. Just like a first draft starts with an intimidating blank page, my semester started with a blank schedule. It was my job to fill it. So I pushed up my sleeves, mapped out my plan, and got started. I experimented—some ideas stuck and grew, others didn’t. I adjusted direction when needed. I explained challenging concepts the best I could. But mostly, I kept moving forward.
That’s the best way to approach a first draft, too: keep moving forward. While teaching, I couldn’t go back in time to redo a class that didn’t go so well. I had to keep my eyes on the goals of the semester and move toward them. In writing, I try to keep that in mind, too. Instead of belaboring a scene or a plot point in my first draft, I try to push ahead.
The time to fix it will come…in REVISION.
My spring semester started this week. To prepare, I bought myself fresh school supplies, packed my bag and lunch, and anxiously awaited meeting my new students. But I was most excited for the chance to revise. This time, keeping in mind all I learned from Semester One, I get to approach Semester Two with a new perspective. The “pages” are already filled in. But this time, I can move things around, keep what works, and edit out what doesn’t. I don’t have to spend so much time mapping out the “plot,” but instead dive deeper into meaning. I can make it better.
And that’s all revision is…making a potentially rough, messy, but malleable first draft into something effective, clear, and impactful. Better.
At least, that’s my hope for this semester. Regardless, I’ll learn a lot through this revision, too. And I can always revise it again.
Life, like art, is always a work in progress.
2 thoughts on “Work in Progress”
Great post, Dana. It’s a reminder that in so many aspects of life we can keep re-imagining, just like in our writing.
Thank you, Susan! Life is constant revision.