Finished letter N in my hopefully last, and for the first time fully sequential, rereading pass. Everday is at revision 11634; each revision is from several minutes to several hours of work.
I wouldn’t be able to write anything if I had to use paper and pen. The number of times I rewrite every sentence is frankly ridiculous – obsessive. I can’t even imagine how writers of the past managed to write anything of value the old way, without the instantaneousness and tracelessness of electronic editing. On paper, any correction muffles the voice, trips the flow, uglies the page; even if you can tolerate that, the physical limit of the number of corrections you can make before having to rewrite the soiled page is simply pathetic. Surely they were much better sentence crafters than I am; but maybe, just maybe, they didn’t realize their full potential because of the limitations of medium. (What will be seen as our own “limitations of medium” in the future?)
I’m also getting alarmingly slower as I continue. At this stage, most of the text looks so genuinely muscular, so polished, so “ready”; it takes more than a few readings of each sentence to penetrate that polish and suddenly sink into a hollow of cliches, tautology, plain stupidity. Oh the agony of rewriting it so it finally makes sense… and a creeping suspicion that in a few months, a next rereading will break it again.
Still, it is getting better. Something of value is accumulating. I can feel it.