Once writers put something on the page, the possibilities for a different way to say the same thing converge on the brain, barraging its cells with parts of speech in various tenses. In other words, revising can be torture, which means most writers also tend to invite and enjoy misery. But I guess we already knew that.

Take, for example, the dilemma of the opening sentence to a short essay I revised all day:

Version 1:
Head-rush drugged and swinging in half-moon smiles from one apex to the next, I decide that my world under the stairs is made up of the perfect in-between.

Version 2:
Since the suspended stairs are open-backed, unmistakable marmalade magenta berber wrapped around dense slabs of Douglas Fir, there is enough friction for my little girl legs to hook underneath the bottom of one step, locking into position across the top of the next.

Version 3:
Like a zoo-trapped monkey, I dangle upside down for hours of my childhood.

Version 4:
I like to spend time under the stairs.

Version 5:
In my childhood home, I spent hours hanging upside down under the stairs.

Version 6:
I spend hours of my childhood hanging upside down like a zoo-trapped monkey beneath the open-backed stairs in my house.

There were more. I just stopped obsessing after a while (Or did I? The internal monologue continues, tap-tapping away at the switchboard in my brain. Yes, that’s the one. No! No way! Hmmm, I like it but only if it can be converted to present tense. Too wordy. Not catch enough. Awkward. Poetic, almost to a fault.)

Dizzy yet? Undecided? Cast your vote carefully, hanging chads will disqualify your ballot. J (Welcome to my world.)

Showing 3 comments
  • Anonymous

    Number 6

  • Marisa

    I like number 6 as well.

  • Anonymous

    Number 1. It draws the reader into your mind.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.