Delete and Dump or ?–On Revising


Mac OS X trash icon when it contains files.

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Today I took some time to garden, cutting back some of the plants spent by the early onset of cold weather in Reno (it was 36 at our house this morning). Grass has invaded the flower garden and only a few splashes of color remind us of the beauty that visited us during the long spring we had this year.

As I was pruning and dead-heading, my mind wandered to the manuscript inside, waiting for me to get serious about completing a third edit. A writing buddy, Pam, is the first one to have read it and she returned the manuscript with her notes a week or so ago. I’ve avoided sitting down and facing those comments. I remember the pain of cutting scenes when I was rewriting “Winter is Past.” I confess to falling in love with my words and having to abort them hurt me to the core. But they didn’t move the plot forward…or worse, they dragged the reader, kicking and screaming, out of the story.

What did I do with those short descriptions or lengthier scenes? Sadly, some of them ended up in the recycle bin or wastebasket, only to be annihilated when I cleaned computer files or emptied the trash, but after a while I got smart and made a file where I cut and pasted my discarded work. A few have woven their way into or even inspired a poem. One became the basis of a (very dark) short story. Others are on hold, waiting for me to rescue them from the limbo of sub-existence. Maybe I’ll pay them a visit and see what happens.

I have another idea brewing, though. It came to me when I was struggling with the climbing rose, trying to get her to go in the direction I wanted. Maybe we could start a little dump site for these rejected pieces of prose or poetry…a place on my blog where you can share your beloved rejects and give them another chance at life. Any thoughts on this? Please comment, if you would.

12 thoughts on “Delete and Dump or ?–On Revising

  1. […] A while back I posted my thoughts on editing and revision. Like most of us, I have a hard time cutting paragraphs, scenes or chapters (sometimes even words) that I’ve fallen in love with. A few of you liked my suggestion–to keep a file of work we’ve edited out of our manuscripts. I invite you to read the entire post at https://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/delete-and-dump-or-on-revising/ […]

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  2. Jamie Dedes says:

    I actually enjoy the pruning process – in life as well as art.

    Appreciated this lovely piece and the sentiments expressed. Good luck with the book. Keep us “posted.” 🙂

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    • Jamie, thank you for all your comments. You are so encouraging. I’m thinking of starting a monthly (or?) challenge for writers to post something they’ve pruned an re-worked. What do you think?

      I saw lots of CA stuff on your blog (didn’t have time to look thoroughly). Are you anywhere near Reno? I spend 3-4 months in Palm Desert. Would be too fun to get together.

      Have a good week writing.

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  3. coffeepearlsgrace says:

    Oh, that’s a good idea! Some of my “rejects” get discarded simply because I get frustrated and can’t find a sense of direction with them. Having a place to store them away for feedback might provide a much-needed inspirational opportunity! Please let me know if you decide to do this!

    Thanks!

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  4. Jingle says:

    what a revealing journey…

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  5. Great idea! It would make it easier to prune if I knew an honorable graveyard was waiting to monument my glorious, though short-lived words. I’ll support it!!

    Every day when I finish writing, I ‘Save As’ my work for that date. This way I have multiple files with everything written inside, mistakes and all, and I can easily find the last version or an earlier one. This way nothing is lost.

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  6. Great piece.. i really enjoyed it. Let’s share.

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