So my friend Pamela was telling me how she tells her grad students that writing is like driving. You have the steering wheel and the gear shift, but then you also have traffic and rain and a spider coming down from your rearview mirror, and construction, and you have to get to work on time, and you have to manage all those things at once. Writing, she says, is like that: managing voice and audience and content and deadlines, and context and style and the totally random page count and All The Things, all at the same time.
I feel as though that “all at the same time” part doesn’t entirely work for me, maybe because I think about managing some of that stuff in one draft, and other tasks in other drafts.
But, at the very least, I am glad she didn’t say driving was like parallel parking, because apparently, in Boston, nobody gets taught the methodical way to parallel park and everybody just does it by guess and by God.
But maybe that’s what revision is like.