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Tuesday, March 15, 2005


delete

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." ~ Oscar Wilde

I’m just home from Starbuck’s. I went there early this morning to have a meeting with myself. Knowing I wasn’t going to take it very well, I first bought myself a turkey-bacon breakfast sandwich and a tall latte. That sort of blatant bribery always works with me. It put me in a better mood to receive the news I was about to firmly deliver to ... myself.

And no, I didn’t like what I had to say. Not one little bit. But I could tell that I had given it a lot of thought—a night's worth of thinking, actually—and so I had to respect myself for being willing to lay it on the line for me that way. You’re impressed too; I can tell.

What was the awful, must-buy-myself-a-treat-before-I-deliver-it news? I had to convince myself to delete an entire chapter—a whole day’s work. (We’re friends, so I’ll be truthful. The word ‘delete’ is for dramatic effect only. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I’ll use that chapter sometime, somewhere. So I first copied it to my “sometime-somewhere” file. But suspend your disbelief for a moment, forget I clued you in, and picture me lifting my hand and bringing my index finger firmly down on the bottom row button, right side, fourth from the end. Imagine “Phantom of the Opera” type music playing in the background while I do this.)

I even snuck my laptop into Starbuck’s with me so I couldn’t change my mind after I’d persuaded myself. Before I could back out, I made myself open the chapter and start again. It had to be done; the chapter simply didn’t work as it stood. I actually liked quite a bit of the content, but overall, it wasn’t going to accomplish what it must in that “Chapter 24” slot of this particular book. I need a transition chapter there, something to set up the next scene. Instead, I’d allowed myself to spend all day yesterday wandering a cerebral, prosy path.

One of my favorite writing quotes is by Robert Cromier: "The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon."

Yes, Robert. It’s nice that no lives depend on me getting it right. But there’s very little that’s beautiful about deleting a whole day’s work ... except that it gave me something to blog about.

Happy writing today. And if, somewhere along this day’s work, you develop an uncomfortable suspicion that you may end up slashing some or all of your precious words—see if you can first get a goodie or two out of the deal.

3 Comment:

At 3/15/2005 11:29 AM, Blogger Darlene had this to say ...

Some days it's a word, and some days it a chapter. Think of it as a diet and you will rejoice! Yay, I lost a whole chapter today!

I wrote a 150 pages once and 'deleted' (there's that word again) them. It was a study on the book of Mathew and I realized around page 149 that someday I may look back on this book and say, "I knew so little". But at least now that I put it down, I can look back and realize that I learned so much from the experience and that is enough.

 
At 3/15/2005 4:29 PM, Blogger Donna J. Shepherd had this to say ...

When I saw that you 'deleted' a while day's worth of writing, I wanted to scream, "Noooooo!" But then I saw that you didn't really. Whew! and thank God! Every scrap of good writing can be saved and used - sometimes in the most unlikely places. :)

I just found out a small coffeeshop with internet access has opened here in my town. Not Starbucks, but they have great coffee. Of course, I'd probably get a whole lot more done if I didn't have the internet and blogs calling my name.

Nice post. - Donna

 
At 3/16/2005 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Is that a picture of Tera?
I have faith in you!! Keep writing, sister, and you will get that book done, regardless of how many chapters you may have to "delete"! Cora

 

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