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.”

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