A Piece Is Never Finished

As time goes on, opinions and viewpoints change. New meaning, new purpose, new context are always occurring to me. Often what I wrote in the past appears childish, or pompous, or downright stupid and, believing firmly that there is always room for improvement, I revisit my work with a critical eye. Very rarely does a piece go from brain to hand to paper without multiple revisions, searching for this right word or that, exercising my mental eraser to eliminate gross errors in judgement or possible offences to my readers.

Writing is a constant game of hide-and-seek in which I am the only player. There is nobody hiding, yet I’m constantly looking for their presence, a modern day Diogenes seeking an honest man. A good idea rarely leaves a trail of bread crumbs to mark the path home. Frustration is the name of the game.

It does have its rewards. Nobody need ever discover your mistakes or weaknesses. There is time to organize and edit the jumble in your brain before you embarrass yourself by having it fall from your lips. “Le Bon Mot” is an exercise in judgement and precision, just like Haiku enforces an economy of words and focus of attention. Think carefully before you speak lest you discover your foot firmly planted in your mouth, or elsewhere.

Revisiting old ideas can be a unsettling exercise. You think to yourself “Did I really say that?” When the answer is “Yes”, then out comes that mental eraser to expunge the past and pick up the pieces. Too often the damage is done, feelings are hurt, the offence has been given. There is nothing left to do but offer a sincere apology and hope for the best.

Hence Palimpsest.

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