Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting Rid of the Junk


At least, according to my husband. If it were up to him, instead of having a garage sale this week, we would be spending a couple hours slam dunking perfectly good household items, toys, clothes, and other miscellaneous items into a gigantic metal dumpster.

Hey, I'm not one of those women who hangs onto things forever. I sold my wedding dress, for pete's sake. I have no problem getting rid of stuff that's no longer useful to me. Stuff that was once beautiful but is now ugly and out-of-date. Stuff that is accumulating and cluttering up my house. I especially don't mind getting rid of it when money is involved. Hence, the garage sale.

Yesterday, as I was sitting at a card table outside of my garage, bagging up junk-slash-treasures for complete strangers to take home at a ridiculously cheap price, something struck me.

If it's so NOT difficult to get rid of the things around my house that are no longer needed, why is is so stinking hard to cut words that aren't useful from my novel? Words that are cluttering up my story. Words that I may have liked at one time but now leave me frustrated or, at the very least, dissatisfied.

After all, just like de-cluttering my house leaves a sense of satisfaction, cleaning up my manuscript by removing unnecessary wordage usually (and I stress usually) brings a positive result.

Then why is it so difficult?

I don't know, maybe it's because I've spent hours crafting those words, and my time is precious. Or maybe it's because I'm afraid if I hit that delete button, I'll never be able to come up with anything better. Or, maybe it's because when I get rid of my words, I don't get any money. In fact, cutting words means I don't finish my manuscript as quickly, which means it will take even longer until I am fortunate enough to earn an advance for my novel.

I've come to the conclusion that it's all about mind-set. If I don't get too attached to the words from the start, they'll be easier to part with. I mean, I've never had a deep personal relationship with my coffee grinder, my flat iron, or my black poncho. As soon as my garage sale ends, I'll forget I even owned those things.

So I'm thinking maybe I need to rethink my relationship with my novel - just a bit. No, not disconnect from it altogether; of course I want my book to be wonderfully crafted and written with passion. But maybe I should remember that these words are not my own. They belong to my Creator. And if I am to create an excellent story that will touch readers and possibly change a few hearts along the way, getting rid of the junk is mandatory.

But for today, my goal is to get rid of the junk in my garage in exchange for some decent cash. Then I will focus on getting rid of the junk in my novel in exchange for a better story.

What about you? Is it hard for you to part with your words?


Timmy Boyle said...

I hate getting rid of words! Having said that, this comment used to be 737 words, but I felt that discussing the history of the Yeti didn't fit the topic as well as I first thought. So, here's what's left. Not quite as interesting, but more to the point. Although it's still kind of long...

Diane said...

Great analogy! We all want that payoff in the end. :O)

Joanne Sher said...

I LOVE this analogy - and I need it - TODAY. Thanks for this, Lyn.

Cheryl Linn Martin said...

Yes, it's hard to get rid of those useless, extra words or even scenes (yikes!)

I recently had to change a female character to a male (13 year olds). Like I posted on FB--I felt like I was bumping off one of my kids!

But, amazingly, I love my boy character! I also saved the girl so maybe I can resurrect her someday.

Anonymous said...

I hope you have a very successful garage sale!
Throwing away our 'junk' gives space for our Creator to give us His treasures. Not always easy! But like Diane said, there's a 'payoff in the end.'

Lynda Schultz said...

It's easier to edit someone else's stuff than my own—but then, I don't have an intimate relationship with the words others have used.

Great thoughts.