For my blog post today about Monica Crowley's Nixon in Winter, I'll quote something that Monica says on page 149:
"During the first week in February, Nixon and I did a final edit of Beyond Peace,
the two main themes of which were brought to the fore by the end of the
cold war: the need to support Russia and the need for the United States
to define a new mission for itself. On February 9, he read the entire
manuscript 'cover to cover, and I'm delighted. It's really something.
It pulls no punches. I can't believe I'm saying this after almost
tossing it out the window, but I think it's good. I really do. But I
won't read it again. I never do after turning it in. You think, 'Why
didn't I do this differently?' I'm not into second-guessing.'"
reminded me of an interaction I had a while back with a student who had
been at West Point. We had to write a paper for a class, and he was
giving me tips on how to write a paper. At the time, I didn't think
that I really needed advice on how to write a paper, for I wrote papers
as an undergraduate and also at the previous graduate institution where I
had studied. But I actually found this student's advice to be
helpful. It had been months since I had written a paper, so getting
back into the game was slightly intimidating, and this student's advice
was a sort of compass for me. And it was good advice: get out what you
want to say, regardless of how it sounds. Later, read what you
wrote----and you'll probably see that what you wrote was not half bad,
even though you might want to phrase things differently, in areas. I'd
probably add that there are cases in which what one wrote may need more
dramatic restructuring than that! But that doesn't mean that the first draft was a waste of time, for what one wrote there can be useful for subsequent drafts.