Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To Write is Human, To Revise, Divine

"I believe that many people have the talent to write. But very few have the courage to rewrite. Even fewer have the courage to rewrite fail, and live to do the whole thing again," says The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates, introducing the recent documentary, Bad Writing. According to the film's press materials, the doc follows poet and filmmaker Vernon Lott as he travels around the country chatting with literary luminaries--David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, and Claire Davis among them--about the trials and pitfalls own early works.

But don't take Vernon Lott's word for it: according to scholar Stephen Greenblatt, even Shakespeare made revisions. While biographers have long waxed poetic about the Bard's "unblotted" manuscripts, Greenblatt argues that Shakespeare's famously "easy" genius is in fact the product of "obsessive fiddling."

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