The manuscript is done, itâ€™s done, I finished it a day ahead of schedule, itâ€™s done. And now, Iâ€™m editing it, because god only knows what kind of detritus I left behind in the wake of my moving things around.
Iâ€™m calling it a line edit, but Iâ€™m not so much editing this manuscript as I am savaging it. Every time I sit down to scrub all my prose clean, I end up cutting every other sentence, and then paragraphs at a time, and then pages. I think what Iâ€™m doing is looking at the manuscript with very clear eyes and a heart at a remove, just like a serial killer; I hope what Iâ€™m not doing is just cutting things for the hell of cutting them. There is joy, sheer joy, in tearing shit to pieces and throwing them in the air and watching the bits flutter down.
The thing is, though, that itâ€™s not really ending up in piecesâ€”itâ€™s ending up more compact. Digging right down to the important parts and discarding the extraneous bits. Like a serial killer.
Itâ€™s made me think about My Writing Processâ€”thatâ€™s right, I think about things like My Writing Process. Even betterâ€”I have a writing process to think about. I know. I have layers just like an onion. OR A SERIAL KILLER.
Anyway, what I doâ€”in posts like this, in emails, in prose and in uh, non-fictional prose, which I suppose is just prose, I suppose, I write the same thing over and over again in different ways, until I finally figure out what it is Iâ€™m really trying to say. Itâ€™s metaphor, metaphor, metaphor, all the way down. And sometimes Iâ€™m tempted to keep all the metaphors, because heyâ€”sometimes theyâ€™re pretty good metaphors! Like how some serial killers want to keep some of their victimsâ€™ hearts, right? Or possibly not?
But mostly Iâ€™m getting good at cutting out the less-good and sometimes frankly bad metaphors, or sentences, or ways to phrase the description of a particular shade of off-yellow or whatever, and leaving behind the good oneâ€”or, I hope, the least terrible one. Itâ€™s all a matter of narrowing things down to the important parts. So that the important parts more importantâ€”the effect of a single sentence can be so much more powerful than entire paragraphs, if youâ€™re very, very lucky. I am hoping I am very lucky.
It feels wonderful to clear out the clutter in my writingâ€”as good as it feels to clear out the clutter in my bag and my desk and my house and my head. It feels good to say things succinctly and cleanly and as sharply as possible. I thinkâ€”I hopeâ€”Iâ€™m cutting right to the heart of things. Like a serial killer.