The Drafts of Life

Tonight I attended an awards ceremony honoring author Michelle Stimpson for her literary work and involvement in the community. During her presentation, she joked about being a former educator, and the need instilled in her to have a "Show and Tell" moment when she had a captive audience.

She proceeded to explain that the finished product, seen by so many as the only product, is such a small part of the process of writing. She held up a copy of her novel, Boaz Brown, which had been a National Bestseller. That was the copy her readers were well acquainted with.

She put that to the side, and brought out a huge binder labeled "Draft #1". As she flipped through the book, she noted there was not a single page that was not covered in red marks, filled with things to add, things to change, things to revise.

Next was an even larger binder, this one labeled "Draft #4". Although there were fewer red marks here, it was still difficult to find a page without some need for change and revision. She explained that at this point she was working with an editor, and was receiving continual feedback about things to improve and change; feedback that guided her throughout the process of turning her idea into a real book. Ultimately, there were six binders labeled as her drafts. Six sets of working through the details, the minutia, the big picture and small details alike.

Finally, she held up a slim binder labeled “Revisions”. She explained this particular compilation was completely comprised of issues the editor wanted looked in to. Back story, plot development, missing information – things that required going back and digging into the how and why of the story and its characters.

I couldn’t help but think of how similar writing is to life. We all want to present ourselves as finished products, books ready to be sent out into the world, perhaps even National Bestsellers. There seems to be no honor in being labeled “Draft #2”, or in sorting through the revision folder. God, however, desires to work us through the process of becoming, and that involves many binders full of things to change, to work through, to dig into.

The process is where the power is – no one simply “is” without a great deal of background work and unseen effort – the revisions of life. Unlike a book, however, humans don’t really have a publication date. As long as we live here on earth, there is an expectation that we are in the process of revision. And then one glorious day, we will be finished, completed works, hand crafted by Christ himself. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 states, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”