What kind of writer are you?

Do you reread your work or are you too embarrassed to admire your own prose?

Do you reread your work or are you too embarrassed to admire your own prose?

When a prolific New York writer was once asked if he spent much time in revising his work, he gave a reply that has become famous:

“Rewrite it? I don’t even reread it.”

To attain such confidence in one’s craft is perhaps the goal of many writers, but I have often felt that an anecdote about Robert Benchley comes closer to the true writer’s attitude toward his work.

Benchley confessed that he closeted himself away from people when he reread his stuff because it would have been embarrassing if others were to see him laughing at his own humor.

These two stories could neatly summarize two conflicting attitudes editors hold toward their work. Some grow blasé—they don’t even bother to reread their material. Others never tire of doing so. Not only do they reread it, but they study it, admire it (with many, many misgivings), try to improve it, and never fail to be awestricken at the wonder of their thoughts going out into the world, naked, defenseless, but unashamed.

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