Revisionist or Perfectionist

I recently re-enrolled at my university after having already graduated in May with a Bachelors of Arts in English. Since I majored in Literature, I couldn’t reapply for Creative Writing – although my entire plan was to become a better editor through such a program. Why not? Because they are both English degrees. Because I couldn’t major in Creative Writing, I’m minoring in it and majoring in Journalism.

Let me be clear – I have no interest in becoming a journalist full-time. Maybe I’ll write articles on the side about my field or about travel, but I have no intention of becoming a war correspondent or a news reporter on camera.

The class, however, is teaching me to question the world, to ask why and how and to keep my curiosity of life aflame. It’s showing me how to stay connected with my community and pushing me to expand my horizons. I like this class for this reason.

I am also learning something about other writers.

In class, we have in-class writings where we must answer a question, discuss it with our neighbors, and then discuss our ideas in class. Today I realized that the three closest people to me in the classroom all have something in common. They write out their answers, grab a new piece of paper, and re-write it. The young woman in front of me reworded hers a bit. The young man beside me sometimes rewrites the entire thing. The other girl near me seems to be doing it to make it neater.

I just write my answer to the best of my ability and leave it. I sat in class this past Monday while others kept writing and wondered if I was weird for already being done, for not rewriting it like my classmates. My decision at the end? I’m not weird. I just don’t edit quick answer, in-class writing assignments to make them sound ‘better’.

My question now is… do they rewrite their work in class because they think it could be better or because they’re perfectionists or do they even know why they do it? I thought about it, and I can understand reworking a short story you’re about to send off or a journalistic piece you hope to publish, but an in-class, quick answer assignment hasn’t quite fit the bill for me. I wrote my answer, thought it was brilliantly done, and waited for someone near me to finish so I could discuss with them. Unfortunately, no one finished before we skipped on to ‘discuss with the class’, but we all had a brilliant class discussion.

So what do you think? Do you rewrite your in-class prompts/assignments? Do you save editing like that for essays or creative pieces you plan to get graded on or get published? Do you do both? Why? I’m really, honestly curious.

Ciao Tutti,

RM

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4 responses to “Revisionist or Perfectionist

  1. I used to be like that, reworking and editing even the smallest in-class assignments. At the time, I was a little shy and if I knew I had to share something out loud I’d make my piece “better” so I wouldn’t hesitate on my words when speaking. I’ve since got over my “stage-freight”, but occasionally I’ll slip back into the unneeded editing because the perfectionist side of me can’t stand a messy paper haha. I still rework a lot of my writing but I try to keep the full-blown editing for my longer pieces or graded assignments.

    • Ah. Perhaps it is a sort of stage-fright. None of the people I saw rewriting actively participated in the discussion even though they’d written so much for their answers. This is a good point. Thanks. I hadn’t thought of that.

  2. I– well, yeah, okay, case in point: I’d not gotten three words into this comment before I backspaced to revise it. When it comes to words, I’m a compulsive fiddler. I even edit quick notes to myself, that no eye but mine will ever see…unless they go rooting through my wastebasket tomorrow, in which case, see how awesomely I phrased that memo?!
    Yes, I blame perfectionism.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying you class. (:

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