After reading Nancy Sommers’ “Between the Drafts” I began to question my own methods of revision. Whenever I was handed back an essay in the earlier years of my education, the revision that was expected of me was to go through the copious amounts of angry red pen that clawed at my sloppy paragraphs and fix them. The result, if done correctly, was a happy green check. It was usually a simple, mechanical process that just consisted of changing the tense of this verb, adding in a few commas, and checking the spelling on that word. As I grew older and began to write more, I realized that so much more needed to be done, and that sometimes, multiple drafts were necessary. Thinking back on it, I’m surprised that some of my paper assignments never required a rough draft, or rather, our rough draft was our final draft and that was the end of it.
I was partial to Sommers’ reason for studying revision. She explained that revision was a way to escape our early drafts, a means by which we are allowed to go back over the past and mend our mistakes. After all, who can expect someone to get something absolutely right the first time? Revision provides us with the freedom to change. I had never really looked that deeply into it before.
I think what makes Sommers a true writer was her recognition that her writing was just regurgitations of sources that influenced her. It’s good to be influenced by people, but not to the extent where you trust their words over your own, such as Sommers once did.
When she reflected back on her childhood, it really provided insight into how she was raised and how that ultimately impacted her life of having no self-confidence. She never believed that she could be an authoritative figure instead of just listening to others. To put it in simpler terms, she explained the situation with her daughters and how they were questioning her authority in order to determine their own. Even when we are not aware of our actions, we are questioning the rules and making our own. It’s the circumstances of uncertainty and discontinuity where we gain and learn the most.
I also found the structure of her essay helpful in order to understand how she finally reached her resolution. She included flashbacks from the way past to the recent past, and intertwined her inklings about revision and her experience as a teacher dealing with students, who were struggling over the same obstacles as she was, and fellow colleagues who influenced the cause of the students’ struggling. As in the beginning, she concluded with a family occurrence and examined the discovery of finding one’s voice.