Revising in a Tumultuous World

For the past decade I’ve been an ardent champion of revision, in my own and my students’ writing, consistently reflecting and blogging about it and finally collecting my thoughts in a book, Living Revision, due out this August. To many people the realm of revision seems rarified, even masochistic. When I pitched my book at a writer’s conference, two publishers laughed at me outright. My mission is to overturn this stereotype, to crack wide the experience of revision and make it accessible to everyone who writes.

Since the presidential election, however, I’ve come to think of revision as a coping skill—one we all need to navigate these tumultuous times. Writing is a means to develop this skill. (more…)

Undoing the Single Story

512px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_Hands_Female_Nude_Baby_-_Kahlil_GibranThe novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives a wonderful TED talk about the human inclination to tell a “single story” about others, especially those we barely know. When she left Nigeria for college in the United States, her roommate was surprised that she spoke English so well and knew how to use a stove. “Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity.”  The roommate’s single story of Africa was one of tragedy and poverty.

Single stories are the stuff of stereotypes, “and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” (more…)