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Second Chances: Directors' Cuts

An artist never finishes a piece of art, not really. At a certain point, a precise juncture of the creative process, they just stop working. They present the art to the public, for whom this work is—seems to be—completed, but for that artist ideas may continue to churn, what could have been done differently, what could still be done differently. They may consider the possibility of changes, of improvement. Think, for instance, of any book of collected essays or stories from a writer you admire: “These appeared, in slightly different form...” is a common preface found in the opening acknowledgements. Even precise wordsmiths like James Salter or Renata Adler tinkered with pieces after they were purportedly finished. For Salter, whose revisions were done longhand, entire new pieces of prose were born of earlier pieces, so severe were his second thoughts. He rewrote his entire 1967 novel The Arm of Flesh,

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