When you finish your novel, if money is not a desperate priority, if you do not need to sell it at once or be published that very second - put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage. A year of more is ideal - but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer. I can't tell you how many times I've sat backstage with a line of novelists at some festival, all of us with red pens in hand, frantically editing our published novels into fit form so that we might go on stage and read from them. It's an unfortunate thing, but it turns out that the perfect state of mind to edit your novel is two years after it's published, ten minutes before you go on stage at a literary festival. At that moment every redundant phrase, each show-off, pointless metaphor, all of the pieces of dead wood, stupidity, vanity, and tedium are distressingly obvious to you.I try to tell my high school students to write a draft of their essay, walk away from the draft for a day or two, and then revise. I'm lucky if they let it sit for a minute or two because they usually begin writing the essay a couple of hours before it's due. I am, of course, supposed to reward all such efforts with an "A" because ....well, I've never heard an answer that I could agree with, but I know students think I'm supposed to.
Clicking through links to find the origin of Smith's quotation and innate curiosity lead me to this post about innumeracy, and this post requesting comments from humanities academicians, and then this post which offers another take on the divide between the humanities and the hard sciences/math.
Most high school students seem to consider math/science more important and more difficult than literature or the social sciences. High schools seem to privilege science and math. The smart kids are funnelled into math and science classes. No one is really funneled into a literature or humanities class. Wendell Berry offers my sentiments more eloquently than I can.
Now, according to those institutions of the “cutting edge,” the purpose of education is unabashedly utilitarian. Their interest is almost exclusively centered in the technical courses called, with typical ostentation of corporate jargon, STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The American civilization so ardently promoted by these institutions is to be a civilization entirely determined by technology, and not encumbered by any thought of what is good or worthy or neighborly or humane.After reading the posts and skimming comments, it seems that both sides are a bit defensive. Also, it seems that both sides of this divide are hampered by an anti-intellectual or anti-education bias. I don't have any scientific poll to back me up, but I'd be willing to bet that teachers and college professors are held in lower esteem than nearly any other profession.
On a more substantive level, it seems that high schools are doing a lot wrong. First, we don't really teach students to love any any discipline. We buy into the utilitarian logic that Berry decries. That logic seemingly is counterproductive because math and science types are encountering and decrying innumeracy and scientific illiteracy.