Tuesday, January 7, 2014

killing your darlings continued

Not so long ago, a dear friend of mine and I were at a party sitting on a couch filling each other in our lives. When I told her about the thing most prevalent in my life right now (a novel revision) she asked me what it meant to revise a novel. So I attempted to explain it, and in the midst of my explanation, she said, "I don't think I could do that." She was referring to the part where I take the thing I love - for example, my most favourite scene - and cut it out. Just like that. (I talked about this process a bit here.)

And yes, it's a very hard thing to do! If I really wanted to, I could leave that thing I love where it is. Even though it's weakening the narrative, it's my novel and I can do what I want. But because I've done this before (I've scrapped an entire novel and rewrote it from scratch, never mind just one scene), I know what can happen when you trust yourself and this process.

This is what can happen: in getting rid of the good and beautiful thing you're clinging to, a thing that you want to keep despite it ruining the things around it, you open yourself up to something even better, more beautiful, more profound. By cutting that thing you love, you make room for a stronger story and you allow yourself to fall in love with something better. So yes, you don't have to cut out that thing you love. But if you don't you'll stay where you are, stuck in a narrative that only half-works and never quite knowing how much better it could be.

After I explained it this way, my friend said, "So, it's just like life."

Yes.

Definitely.

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