Brevity Please


I’m celebrating today so I’m going to keep this short. Ever since I decided to restructure my novel it has been a marathon of organizing, rewriting and editing. I had a limited amount of time, so I had to push my other jobs aside for the month and just write.

It was heaven. There’s nothing I like more than an excuse to ignore social media, cut back on exercise and have a reason to order takeout. It was a marathon without the pain. I’ve actually never run 26 miles but I imagine one loses perspective and there are probably hallucinations of the worst possible outcome. But the finish line must be glorious.

Even though I went through all those things, for the most part it was extremely satisfying. Like running, writing is a matter of plugging along, no matter how tired you get. This book is an ultra-marathon in terms of the amount of hours I’ve put into it, (thousands) and at this point it’s easy to see what it needs. The manuscript practically talks to me  and I just have to listen. If a paragraph feels dead or has an associative shrinking feeling, it probably needs to go. And if it feels alive and full of possibility, it stays. The more I follow this simple test, the easier it is to let the text lead me through the process.

In order to be ruthless with my cuts, I have to remember that every thing I delete is really still in there somewhere, reincarnated into better phrases and word choices. A book is a living thing, in many respects, and I’m better off letting it lead me down the aisle. The finished piece is now about two thirds the length it was before, but for most writing, I say, less is more.


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