Revisionist attitude

I ran across this quote today:

“When a thing is done, it’s done. Don’t look back. Look forward to your next objective.”

Gen. George C. Marshall

I got excited about this quote because Marshall was a military man and this seems like a military attitude. It’s actually close to something my heroine, an Army captain, says in my current, WIP. Reading this quote made me smile because I thought of my character and said–yup. I do understand the way she thinks.

In fact, I would love to be able to adopt this attitude myself. But my nature is more prone to looking back over things I’ve done or said and re-thinking. Wondering how I could have done it differently. Wondering if I could have done it better. I waste a lot of energy this way.

So maybe that decision I made thirty plus years ago not to pursue a military career was the right one. But I digress. What I wanted to talk about is writing and revising. Maybe the reason I’m a good writer is exactly the same reason I’m always going over past actions in my head. I’m a reviser by nature. I will work at a sentence, paragraph, chapter or scene until I’m happy with it (or most likely until someone publishes it and effectively puts an end to revisions). I’m dogged about this. I have a hard time letting go or concluding I’m satisfied with anything I write.

I admire General Marshall’s words and attitude. I’m going to try to look forward more. To work on the next objective and not worry so much about the last thing I finished. But I’m also going to embrace the reviser in me and work to harness it only for good. Fictional stories are made for revising. In life, it makes more sense to charge forward and not look back.

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