Monday, July 20, 2009

Killing Your Poodles

The thing about writing is this.

I love to write. I've always written. Voices, images, scenes and words have always whirled in my brain. Dialogue and characters tumble from my fingers, and when the Muse is really talking, I can barely do anything without a pen at hand. I'll have post-it notes stuck everywhere, I'll get up to scribble in the middle of the night, I'll be fumbling at stoplights with scraps of paper pinned to the steering wheel, trying to capture a thought before the light changes.

Sometimes I've even doodled on a pad on the truck seat beside me, whilst whizzing along at 60 miles per hour. But we won't talk about that. ;-)

Two things, however, often trip me up. Perseverance ... and editing. It's the latter I'm wrestling, now.

Editing is an evil necessity of writing, and one that can be hard to do. The initial phase is pretty much lumberjack work for me: get in there with an ax and chainsaw, and whack off large chunks of extraneous prose. That's not so hard, especially since I learned the trick of keeping an "Outtake File." If I have a scene or chunk of dialogue that's too precious to delete, I simply cut/paste it into a document in the Outtake File, where it can die a peaceful death by neglect.

The hard part, though ... is gearing up with the flashlight and SWAT gear to hunt down the other billionty excess words. This is the part that hurts. This is where I go after all those lovely, lovely turns of phrase and grind them into dust. This is where virtually everything that ends in "ly" goes spiraling into the dark, where commas cringe beneath the glare of spotlights to see if they're fraternizing with two many adjectives, where whole sentences whimper at knife point for fear of being found substandard and thereby marked for extinction.

I'm killing my poodles. And it sucks. Plus it's also friggin' tedious.

But it's necessary, because as anyone can tell, brevity ain't my strong point, and I never use one word where three or four will suffice. Funny thing is, when I started my current novel manuscript - at least two years ago - I initially prided myself at writing fast paced, sparing prose. Ha. That didn't last long. So, here I am, sharpening the knife once more.

Do I have a point to all this? No, not really. But I feel better for having vented/whined and slaughtered a few metaphors, and now I can get back to editing. Yeah, I really do have aspirations of becoming a published novelist one day, but I'm pretty sure there's faint chance of that, so long as my writing remains on my hard drive. ;-)

Okay, putting the infrared goggles back on. Wish me luck, I'm goin' in. ;-)
Cheers ~


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