Throughout this investigation of my childhood writing, I've been excited to get to the thick folder of eighth grade work. English class that year placed a heavy focus on writing, with an emphasis on the planning and revision stages. I was eager to examine pages of crossed-out sentences and scribbled notes that might reveal my early story development process.
Alas, while at least two drafts of every piece survive, the differences between versions are minimal in most cases, with only a few word choices improved, punctuation errors fixed, and maybe an occasional sentence rewritten. And really, that's not surprising, since I was a 13-year-old kid who'd always been praised for strong writing skills. Why would I bother to alter my stunning prose?
Based on my own experience and what I've observed in others, it tends to take a long time for writers to understand and accept that what pours out in the first draft is often nothing close to the best possible version of a story. Revision is time-consuming, difficult, and frustrating, so it's no wonder we resist it. Still, I applaud the Sudbury (Massachusetts) Public Schools for teaching revision in the eighth grade writing curriculum, even if this step was only cursory in practice: