A journal entry from last fall that I ran across, slightly revised:
My best friend was here for a few days, and we ripped the tenure essay to shreds and put it back together. Today I showed my freshmen the effects of a couple of hours work on one particular page, where the typed words are barely visible for the revisions, edits, corrections, stets and arrows. They were suitably awed.
However, when I began talking to them about the importance of words, of precision, of getting an essay to show, as closely as you possibly can, the vision in your head, so that the vision in the reader's head is as close to yours as you can get it in a fallen world, when I talked about words being our only means of doing this and how we must therefore respect (if not love) them and use them as precisely as possible . . .
I was reminded of Dillard in Holy the Firm, at the end of a description of exhorting her creative writing students to know and understand that it takes everything you have to be a writer: "They thought I was raving again. It was just as well."
Oh -- but if just one could catch the vision . . . !