Nov 08 2013

Goldberg “Rereading and Rewriting” – Self-Study

Published by under Reading Responses

In this chapter, Natalie Goldberg endorses the idea that rereading is the most useful tool for rewriting. However, she notes that rereading itself may not be enough – that is, the writer must also put time and space between themselves and their piece, and they must also re-imagine what they were trying to create in the piece in order to rewrite effectively. I’ve found this to be true in my writing life. For my Significant Person essay, I was stuck after my first draft. I liked the draft so much that I couldn’t figure out how to change it. The reoccurring comment from my reviewers was to let the main subject speak for themselves. I knew this meant that my second draft must not be from my eyes because it was limiting for my subject, and also limiting me as a writer to what I knew and what I felt. I think part of the challenge of writing is that sometimes we writers must move outside of ourselves to make our writing more interesting for the audience, who (unless you’re planning on burning your notebooks or keeping them locked in your room until dust coats their pages) is necessarily outside of yourself.
For my second draft then, I decided to give it time to gel. It was tempting to complete it early on so that I could enjoy time at home that weekend (one of the few, treasured, weekends away from school), but I was determined to wait until I knew what I wanted to put on paper, how to represent my subject. My efforts were rewarded: I saw her that Sunday in a church I don’t normally go to and my grandmother’s eyes welled up and she gave me a big hug. The moment when she first saw me gave me another episode to write about, so not only was my perspective different, but it was also based in a different setting, even if that wasn’t discernible to the reader. When I got home from church, I had the idea incubating in my head, and within a half an hour, I’d written a free-verse poem in her voice. This became, with minor edits, my second revision of the assignment.
What was effective about the revision? The comments from my reviewers applauded the choice of structure. “You took a risk and it really paid off”. They’d seen my writing and my comfort zone, and it was rewarding to see the way that they responded to my substantially different revision. For this rewrite, re-imagining the place (through experience) and stepping away from the first draft both helped to create an effective revision.

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One Response to “Goldberg “Rereading and Rewriting” – Self-Study”

  1.   Silvia Lunaon 13 Dec 2013 at 7:43 pm

    The revision process is hard for me too, but the difference is due to my emotional connection to the the topic. My writing is autobiographical, so I find it hard to change specific feelings or moments in the paper structure. I find that I do minor edits to this specific moments. I really enjoy this post, it was informative.

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