Writing is Re -writing – or not?



Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride

Lee Kofman, author of The Dangerous Bride. Photo : rmit.edu.au

‘We do not write. We re-write. Sometimes long after publication, in our fatigued heads. This is not a matter of initial sloppiness, or compensation for a lack of brilliance via hard work. Isaac Babel could write up to forty drafts of a single story. Sherwood Anderson said that some of his stories took him ten or twelve years to write. Re-writing is crystallization of a thought. Or excavation. Or – writing.’ So says Lee Kofman, author and writing mentor.

– excerpt from Lee Kofman’s blog leekofman.com.au

Yet today I read of a highly successful author who often writes 100 pages without either re-reading or re-writing. She is Elena Ferrante, whose novels have been described as ‘masterpieces’. Further bucking the trend, she refuses to self-promote by giving interviews, public talks, or other marketing strategies. Which just goes to show, once again, that rules, especially writing rules, were meant to be broken – if, like Ferrante, you can get away with it.

In my own writing, I have completed draft after draft of my novel, Capriccio. Each  new version is subtly different from the others. The aim is to have a perfect manuscript before submitting it to publishing houses. But I sometimes wonder, after all this work, are the earlier versions somehow fresher, because they’re less worked over?

What are other writers’, or readers of this blog, thoughts on rewriting? Please share your writing practices here ! 📝📃📚