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Billy Collins on the arbitrary distinction between revision and writing

And when I revise, I’m writing, aren’t I?

Poems that lack that seem very mechanically put together, like a piece here and a part there. Because of the workshop and the M.F.A. phenomenon there’s much too much revision going on. Revision can grind a good impulse to dust. Of course, the distinction between revision and writing is kind of arbitrary because when I am writing I am obviously revising. And when I revise, I’m writing, aren’t I? I love William Matthews’s idea—he says that revision is not cleaning up after the party; revision is the party! That’s the fun of it, making it right, getting the best words in the best order.

From the paris review’s interview with Billy Collins

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