Re-vision: def to see differently because of the tears brought to your eyes by the tightening of the vise on your head.
Re-sist: def to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that what is, is not because it should not, ought not, can not be the way it is; to shout “It’s not fair” as you throw your weight against the overwhelming weight of the universe and then to be surprised when the universe rolls over you.
Rolled Over by “Should”
One reason “should” is such a dangerous word is because it leads you to this form of resistance. Writers who think in “shoulds” keep putting themselves in the position of being rolled over by the universe.
It’s not heroic to pit yourself against the universe this way; it’s a pointless waste of energy.
Bouyed Up by “Does Not Happen”
Spoiler Alert: I will reveal as little about the plot as I can and still make the point. In Terry Pratchett’s marvelous novel Nation, the main character Mau is battered by catastrophe in the form of a tidal wave. Numbed by grief, he refuses to allow one more person to die.
He sees what is about to happen, what must almost certainly happen, but Mau takes action to prevent it. He declares “Does not happen!” and fights off death. (Death, of course, fights back; Nation would be a short story instead of a novel if it didn’t.)
Heroic or Futile?
Declaring “Does not happen!” and taking action to change reality is heroic; declaring “Did not happen!” because “it’s not fair” or “shouldn’t be that way” and refusing to acknowledge reality is futile.
It’s completely human of course to go into shock at times – to whisper (or shout) “No” and stare blankly at the drain your wedding ring has just disappeared into, at the blood seeping out of your finger because the knife slipped, at the dying screen of the computer that just crashed. After the moment of shock and disbelief, you have the opportunity and choice to either:
- willfully and futilely continue to deny reality by insisting this shouldn’t have happened, this can’t be true, this isn’t right… OR
- heroically embrace the pain of accepting reality in the moment so that you can act to change the future by turning off the water and getting a wrench (or calling a plumber) to open the U-joint; applying pressure, elevating the wound and, depending on the severity of the cut, getting a butterfly bandage or going to the ER; shutting down the computer and calling Tech Support or the Geek Squad.
The next time you attempt to revise your writing, you have the choice to heroically see and accept reality or to futilely resist. Are you going to be a “does-not-happen” writer who finds a better definition of revision than the tongue-in-cheek one above or a “it-can’t-be” writer who finds more definitions and forms of resistance?