I’ve heard it from just about every writer of note. It’s become a mantra of sorts: Kill your darlings. I’ve spent some time working on my newest project, which I’ll refer to from here on out as DDL, and I had decided to forgo writing by hand, as I had with Jak and the Giants, in favor of typing so that I could hopefully get a first draft done prior to leaving for Europe in Sept. I’ll only be gone a couple of weeks but that much time from characters can make it difficult to get back into a groove.
I’d written some really compelling stuff but then I got to a point (the point with the hookers) and I realized that I’d veered a really long way off course; like I was aiming to land in London and I ended up in Slovenia. I started reading my work and harvesting it for my favorite lines when I realized that in order to capture the spirit I wanted I would have to slaughter my darlings. I had five wonderful chapters and I lopped off the bottom four and ruthlessly cut the first back and retooled it to go where I wanted it to. I also dug out my Fat Boy (fountain pen) and Moleskin (use the ones without the faux leather covers as the faux leather contains a chemical which could be potentially harmful in certain instances) and started handwriting. And you know what? It’s AWESOME. It’s found all the promise that the first couple of pages had when I previewed them for a friend.
The point? I guess it’s knowing when something’s not working or being willing to give up on good in order to go for great. It would also be not to rush things. DDL will get done when it gets done. I’m not a famous author who can afford to produce sub-par anything. Everything I do has to be top of my game if I’m even going to have a chance at being published.
On the personal front I still have little in the way of a life, but the universe and I have chatted about that and I think we’ve come to an understanding.
I also joined a writing critique group, critters.org, and I’ve been reading some decent stuff over there. The truth is that reading other people’s stuff really crystalizes for me the things I need to get stronger on.
Editing for Jak is going like gangbusters. I’m half way done and I’m liking what I see. I think I’ll definitely be able to cut it down to 100k words for submittal. There’s a lot going on, a lot I’ll hate to lose, but I think the stuff I’ve cut makes it a much tighter, awesomer story.
PS - We’re writers, we’re supposed to make words up.