Revision as Revelation

It was only when I began revising an essay that I discovered what it was about. I had thought the piece would be a simple meditation on what I’d learned about Cyrus the Great over these past few years – the sexy “messiah” byline, author of the first declaration of human rights, all that… and how my research led to a more complex portrait of the man and his times. And I guess it was, but only secondarily. Primarily, the essay is about change — how, over the years, changes in my Cyrus project have dovetailed with changes in my own life. I wouldn’t have discovered that without going back to the beginning again.reading-and-writing Suzanne Lilly

 And now I’m back to Persia – editing the historical fiction that has evolved out of gobs of learning and even more intriguing connections that such learning teased from the shadows. I wandered away for awhile. Several projects of a non-fiction-y nature, including the one above, came home to roost with unalterable deadlines, and then there was (is?) that play that I wanted to knock out in draft. But finally, I’ve gotten back to Persia again. And again with the revelatory edits: only after I’d finished drafts of two novels did I see the fascinating role of a woman in shaping what Cyrus comes to be best known for. Add to that a family crisis (my own – “it’s all material,” as they say), and the story launches with a whole, new twist — a change of identities and the sometimes dysfunctional ways that we care for each other.

Some time ago, I wrote here about beginning again, how I seem always to be starting over… again. It’s not totally true. The years accrue and so, blessedly or cursedly, do we – in experience, ideas, bad clothes, and good friends. Maybe it is that we revise our way forward, discovering only through vigorous reflection where we’re headed, what the accretions mean, what they lend, warn, or promise for the way ahead. Maybe, paradoxically, that’s where all the novelty lies. Does or doesn’t, edits are calling… and new angles to explore.


  1. This is thought provoking. Now I wish you success in starting again. Hope to read the results of your new work.

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