Monday, February 27, 2006

Rewrite and Reread

I rewrite in order to be reread. Andre Gide

I read this line in the poem "Mr. Dithers Explains It All to You" by David Kirby, which I found in the collection 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. In the context of the poem it means that no worthy accomplishment comes without worthy effort. The French author Andre Gide revised his manuscripts before publishing his novels to perfect them, wanting them to please readers so much that they would be read and shared, even reread. I have not been able to actually verify the quote in our collection of quotation books at the library or through online sources, such as the Online Center for Gidian Studies, but it sounds true. Teachers have always told their students to write and rewrite, for once a work was published, it was set forever. Writers lost control of their works once they were published.

Walt Whitman never accepted the loss of control. He wrote and rewrote his collection of poems Leaves of Grass many times. The first time it was published it was a moderately small volume. The final edition was massive. There have been other examples of rewriting, such as John Fowles revising his novel The Magus, but it has not been common.

Writing and rewriting is still recommended, for writers do want to issue their best work, but the rules of control have changed with the Internet. It is easy to revise and expand anything on the Internet. All a writer has to do is reopen the document and edit the text.

Rewriting has a new connection to rereading. If you subscribe to blogs and other web content through email or an aggregator, such as Bloglines, you may have noticed some items reappearing in your inboxes, sometimes long after they first arrived. It was a mystery to me when I first noticed repeated entries. Now that I write I know why. If I go back to a blog entry and revise it, usually correcting a misspelled word or improving a sentence or updating with new information, I then repost the item. On my blog it stays in the same place, but it will reappear in Bloglines to those who have already viewed it.

So, my apologies to anyone who has been annoyed by finding my posts more than once. I am trying to get them right for the readers to come. Of course, you are welcome to reread.

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