Sunday, September 9, 2012

Teachers Write Real Revision

Hello, Teachers Write friends! I think most of us are back to school now and, if you're like me, you're trying to find a balance in writing while teaching, reading, commuting, getting things done around the house and still spending time with family. It hasn't been a super easy transition and I'm still working on figuring out how I'm going to make it all work.  

What I have noticed is that I desperately have a desire to want to keep writing. Writing is such a part of me after Teachers Write this summer. I just can't see putting it all aside and not thinking about it again. Two weeks ago, I finally finished the first draft of the book I was working on all summer. I printed it out, stuck it into an envelope and it's sitting patiently on my shelf until October 7th, when I'll bust it out and start revising. The anticipation is almost unbearable....but I'm managing. While I wait, I've started working on another first draft for a book that has been rolling around in my head all summer AND I also buckled down and read Kate Messner's Real Revision so I can get myself really ready for revision in a month. 
After this summer, I'm sure you all know how Super Woman-ish Kate is, but then I read Real Revision and had an entirely new respect for her. This book is just brilliant and so well written. Having talked with Kate a few times in real life at conferences, I know how she sounds in real life. Her voice in Real Revisions is completely her. There was no point in time when I had to think about her as I read the words, it just felt like she was talking the whole time. I loved it.

The ideas Kate shares in Real Revision are great. They all make sense to me. I was taking notes everywhere. I read it with my first-draft-done book in mind but also with my new book in mind. It was good for planning what I'm going to do when I start to revise but also for planning how I'm going to draft this next book. The ideas will work for both stages. I actually think using the ideas as I write this new first draft will help me be in a better place when I finish this first draft. *crosses fingers*
It's a little bit tricky to see, but this is my book with all the tabs marked. I marked ideas I wanted to come back to, quotes I loved, and activities I thought were great. There is something amazing about knowing that others are in the same boat when it comes to revising. It feels like a warm, snuggly blanket wrapped around my shoulders to read how others revise and what they do. I felt connected but also felt like I wasn't in this alone. I had a security blanket of ideas and authors making me feel like I can do it, too. When I think about taking these ideas back to students, I think helping kids realize that they aren't alone in revising. It might be scary but revising is a real part of writing and having support from peers and teachers makes it easier. 

That being said, I totally get how hard it is to share writing. I remember at the beginning of the summer how many people were nervous to share their writing. When we share our writing, it's hard not to feel vulnerable. It's hard hear someone's critique for the first time and not take it personally. I have to remind myself that I can't get better if I don't hear what others have to say and that it won't be perfect the first time.

In August, Kate hosted a #RealRevision chat on Twitter. Many Teachers Write friends joined in. I loved reading through the archive of the chat and recommend it. Lots of great ideas were shared! I loved these two quotes:

"I hate revisions going in...but love them when I get to the other side." 
-@Yaytime, Dave Roman, author of Astronaut Academy

"I’ve learned (sort of) that the start of a new revision feels hopeless. 
I panic, I suck. Then I hit a stride." 
-@Gaepol, Gae Polisner, author of The Pull of Gravity

I know I feel comforted knowing revisions are part of writing and that they may not be easy but they'll most likely be worth it. I love knowing that I get a second chance, or a third, fourth, fifth...etc, chance. I can work on it until I think I really get it right. It's not over if I didn't get it perfect the first time.

In October, as I start my real revision mode, I'll share more of how I decide to tackle it and how it goes. For now, I definitely recommend everyone read Kate Messner's Real Revision! The ideas are wonderful and practical and easy to take straight from the book to the writing classroom or workshop. Have you tried any of Kate's revision ideas or used them with students? I would love to hear how they went!

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