How I Knew

by Jody Feldman

These are flowers in my yard. I didn’t plant them. I hired someone to do that. I don’t have the patience to garden even though I know how. I don’t have the patience to sew, even though I’ve taken several classes. Believe me; I’ve tried.
But I do have the patience to write.

There was a time when I didn’t think that was possible. I wanted the words that poured from my fingers to be perfect. Sure, I was up for a snip here and a tweak there, but I didn’t understand (or didn’t want to understand) the concept of wholesale changes.
Of digging up the flowerbed.
Or ripping apart the seams.
Of doing what was necessary to create the vision that was my goal. I was still at a point where I craved instant gratification from any creative process.
And then...

I signed up for a workshop on revision. The leader, the wonderful Darcy Pattison, told us—
Well, I don’t remember what she told us exactly. But here’s what I came away with. To create a story that might match my expectations, I’d have to get my fingernails dirty. Not just a little crusty, but downright filthy.

After that weekend, I grew hyper-aware of what it would take to create a publishable book. And I had doubts. Could I really rip apart my sentences and paragraphs and whole chapters like that? Could I rethink entire scenes? Could I bear to throw them out and completely retool?

Those doubts bombarded me,
for about 15 minutes.
Yes, I could. I could do all of that. And more.
That when I knew, how I knew, I could become a writer.


  1. This makes me think of how casually my mother used to pull out and undo huge swaths of her own knitting just to get back a missed stitch. She always seemed so fine about it.... I think of her when I'm killing my darlings...

  2. Chris, your comment anticipated what I was going to say. I'm a very bad knitter, and my friend Leah, who is a very good knitter, said that, quite simply, the difference between a bad knitter and a good knitter is that a good knitter is willing to rip out. Thanks, Jody!


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