George Saunders Taught Me That The Revision Process Can Be Loving

George Saunders gets excited about dramatization, “When you take a human situation and make it come to a boil.”

I saw this dramatization the first time reading Saunders’ work “The Wavemaker Falters” in his collection CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. Although he has gentle wisdom and love, he sees violence as power.

Power is part of his writing process. The first draft is about making jokes and looking down on the character’s flaws. The revision portion is about bringing them up, so they’re not so far below.

Saunders says, “Reimagining them, ‘How do you feel? What’s your problem? Why are you so grouchy?’ Then they become more three-dimensional and easier to love.”

Saunders has a genuine relationship with his characters through distance and discipline. It’s such an active process that creates a deeper connection with the work.

His writing process cycle is all too familiar. We start a piece, think it’s dumb, wear it out, but then we finish, and it’s not that bad! Then we start another piece, and here we go again, just like in real life.

Saunders makes a strong point to enjoy that moment. We should always remind ourselves.

“Step up to the beauties of life and horrors of it without any kind of flinching.”

A Little on Running Are-Lit

This fall semester I’ve done most of my blog writing at home instead of hanging out at a café. I rent a three-bedroom apartment with eleven other family members; an aunt and uncle, two grandparents, and seven cousins. 

I’m blessed with my own bedroom. Tiny and comfy but mostly cluttered because I don’t listen when I tell myself, “You have no more space!” I bring home free books from the library and Tupperware from my momma no matter what. 

I was also recently gifted a mini fridge from my older sister, Diana. Now my writing is only interrupted by bathroom breaks and when I need more water. 

I have a desk I don’t use. It’s more of a shelf now. A fluffy pillow on the floor is all I really need to get settled to write. I’ll admit sometimes it’s not the best workspace because I lean right over and take a nap. 

Drinking coffee on the floor isn’t the greatest either. After knocking over my cup a bunch of times, and most recently cough syrup, I hid all the stains with a dramatic carpet made out of scarfs. Don’t tell the landlord!

Continue reading A Little on Running Are-Lit