Friday, 13 April 2012

What To Do If You Lose Your Work

Yesterday I heard on the radio a news story about a blind woman who wrote longhand 26 pages without realising her pen had run out of ink and a kindly forensics officer spent 5 months of lunch hour time deciphering the indentations on the paper to give the woman a transcript.

In the papers the woman, Trish Vickers, is reported as saying "I could remember the gist of what I had written but there was no way I could have written exactly the same way again."

I'm very pleased for her that she has retrieved her work but, in my experience, work always improves when you re-write it from scratch. It would mean less work if you kept the same manuscript and tinkered around the edges (and believe me I'm all for anything that involves less work) but first drafts often need such extensive re-writing that it's best to start again.

That may of course be just my work, and I admit I write very sloppy first drafts, but there's nothing I've done that hasn't been improved by a re-write, and I've seen enough student versions of the same piece to know that re-writes always improve it.

Putting the original draft to one side and starting again is actually liberating. You have confidence and knowledge about the scene because you've written it once before, but now your memory chooses the best bits, the heart of the story, and you end up with something that's much much better than before.

I appreciate that I'm sighted and it's not as easy for Ms Vickers to produce work, but I can't help but think she'd have been better off re-writing those 26 pages.


penny simpson said...

I felt the same - once I'd got over how touched I was by the kindness displayed to her. But then I'm not blind and I can imagine how she must have felt. I lost three pages of amendments on Tuesday and had to resort to a bar of chocolate!

docstar said...

I edit as I go, so rewriting a whole ms from scratch - it would never happen.

Essay Writing Service said...

This is really great appreciation for the blind lady. Because this comes with deep dedicated experience and this the example of it. Thanks a lot.

Sarah Duncan said...

Penny, I sympathise with you about losing pages of amendments - they seem to hurt more than draft work. Hope the chocolate helped.

Docstar, I tend not to edit as I go just to get the story written, plus I like the re-writing process so I'm up for the major edits. But everyone is different, there's no such thing as a right or wrong way, only your way.

EWS, thanks for your comment.