05 May 2011

5 the massacre


there's this cliche that editors love and writers hate... "murder your darlings!"

a writer slaves away to tackle a manuscript into some semblance of sense then timidly hands it over to the editor only to have the editor, pitchfork raised and ready, squeal: "murder your darlings!" as though the commandment to kill the words you love most were editorial advice any writer would want to hear.

i haven't been writing much of anything lately except this one essay with which i've been doing battle since january. it began at the end. a thorough inconvenience since, for the last five months, it left me stumbling about the dark- the blind leading the blind- trying to figure out how to get this bloody thing to where it wanted to go. 

and we're not there yet. we're not there until i can read it as though it weren't written by me and that's not happening now. but, in the meantime, there's a teeny tiny chance it has made some progress. there's a possibility that is has finally dragged itself around to the last two lines.

the three sentences that have been with me from the beginning and have made multiple jaws drop. the three sentences that- along with one other that carries a 75% chance of being cut in tonight's naked lady bar- are the only remaining pieces of the original ten page essay.

croftie would be proud. it has been a bloodbath of darlings.

over the course of writing this thing, i have slaughtered 24 pages. which doesn't sound like much until you consider this was only ever supposed to be an 800 word essay, so a hell of a lot of killing had to take place for there to be 8,000 words to spare.

the question now is this: what do i do with them?

my first impulse is to go picking at the bones. to see if there's anything leftover that's of use. because, unless i'm queen to a verbal empire of prodigious waste, i imagine there must surely be something. a line here and there that might be exploited for a blog post or two.

that's the most logical thing to do, but i don't think i'm going to do it. i think i'm going to let them die. because they were the route, not the end. and sometimes, though it's murder, you have to walk away.

5 comments:

Osutein said...

Well said. And ready yourself. The knives come out tonight.

oline said...

i was deeply afraid of that.

Linda said...

can this go in the book about writing the book????

oline said...

you're definitely chairing the committee on the book about writing the book's table of contents!

Lara Ehrlich said...

Croftie is proud. Though I must say that some darlings are meant to be kept. Some darlings make the whole story. Maybe?