Monday, April 6, 2009

Here Lies Some Really Crummy Writing...

I have spent the last few days in a constant state of eulogizing.

I am working on a project that is particularly difficult for me. In other words, it is very much like everything else I have ever or will ever work on. No matter what you may have heard to the contrary, writing is very hard work.

I have begun, written and then deleted eight versions of the same chapter of the manuscript I have only recently stopped glaring at.

A particularly applicable quote I have heard attributed to any number of authors has been running through my head. In regards to writing, this bit of somewhat disturbing advice reads, "you have to be willing to murder your babies." Sounds gruesome, right?

Once you realize that this is not meant to be taken literally but, instead, as something of a metaphor, the cringe factor lets up a little. Essentially the as-yet-unidentified author of this tidbit is reminding writers that we have to be willing to delete anything we have written if it isn't good enough or right or exactly what we need. And we have to be willing to do that even if we have invested a lot of time and effort into crafting it. And especially when the writing is actually good, just not what the story needs.

So I've amassed a very large pile of pretty crummy writing that I hearby lay to rest as I move on to what will probably be mediocre writing that will soon join it in the great slush-pile in the sky in the hope that some really good writing will emerge to take its place.

Can you hear me giving a eulogy as the dramatic organ music plays in the background...
"These paragraphs were just so young. They never had a chance to grow into something bigger and better. The metaphors were tired and forced, but they tried hard. It is just so senseless that truly promising words could be lumped together in such a way that they never even stood a chance. May this butchering of the English language live on in our memories so that this tragedy will never repeat itself."

R.I.P. Really Crummy Writing. R.I.P.


Jewel said...

I'm impressed. It's got to be so hard to have to trash something you've put so much work into just because it's not what's exactly right...but good for you!!

Nikki said...

I feel your pain!! That's all I have to say about that.

Paul D. Eden said...


Rachel Rossano said...

I cannot bring myself to truly delete them. As I write I keep a separate file for them. The rambling conversations, misplaced descriptions, and imperfect chapters all go to the file. I cannot bear to murder my babies, but I cannot let them stay either.

Sarah M Eden said...

Rachel - I do that, too. I have my "deleted" file that I put them into so as to appease my emotional attachment to all things pathetic and unnecessary. That fact that nothing ever reemerges from that file is beside the point, right?


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