An editor once accepted a piece of my writing, but suggested I should start the piece with the final paragraph. I had worked on the article for weeks, and in my mind, the words were set. I couldn't envision a different version. The writing was in place, permanent. I didn't want to break it apart, parse out new sections, consider new transitions, or kill any sentences I had labored over.
The article was done. I wanted it to stay done.
But I took the editor's advice. I reconfigured the conclusion as the introduction, found a different stopping point, and filled in the gaps that inevitably form when you bust up a piece of writing.
The end result was a better article.
I tell this story to my students when they revise their own essays. Today, as we hold draft workshops and students cluster desks together to share their work, I even wear my #DemoDay tee shirt. I ask them to practice compassionate demolition -- to thoughtfully enter these written spaces, not with sledgehammers, but rather with their pens and comments, with an eye for what's good, what's best, and what's still possible.
Sometimes, after all, whether in home design or writing, you need to bring a degree of destruction in order to create something more fitting, more orderly, and more beautiful.