Editor’s Corner 101.11

Packing Up Clutter and Dispatching Our Darlings

Scribe smallThis morning the rain – and snow – stopped here in the Green Mountains, the sun came out, and I was finally able to mow the shaggy lawn and begin the arduous spring ritual of uncluttering my life. While this is one of those ongoing projects which I likely won’t finish until the next millennium (I come from a family of long-lived optimists), it is something I mirror in a more manageable way when I sit down to edit and rewrite.

Which is what I am doing right now to a short story I wrote four years ago. It was ok at the time, but I always thought there was something that didn’t quite work. Or could work better. At the time the need to pen two books intervened, but now, up against a block on my chinchilla novel, there’s no better time to dust it off and spruce it up.

I was timid, at first. Moving a comma here and there, making sure the prose was active and clean; after all, we can learn and improve a lot in four years. But that lingering sense of wrong remained.

Death by pen03Time to resurrect that oft-quoted (dare I say clichéd?) bit of Faulknerian advice: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” This is actually a variation on the words of another Oxfordian – thought from England, not Mississippi – Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who said, “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings.” It was more recently echoed by Stephen King in his splendid book, On Writing, with distinctive King flair: “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Now, this can either be excruciating or liberating or, for those of us with a perverse appreciation for carnage, great fun. But before you get down to the business of literary homicide, start by going through and removing anything that seems like clutter. From clutzy phrase to extraneous scene, even that colorful character you so fell in love with but who really belongs in a story all her own, snip them out. Fill the wastebasket (with paper or bits); or file them away for later use, perhaps random inspiration.a3cc3-revisionangst

If this doesn’t fix things, it should at least make it easier to see those darlings begging for a swift execution. It doesn’t matter how eloquent or heart-rending the prose, nor how many days you slaved over a paragraph (Oscar Wilde once quipped, “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”). Be willing to look with an objective eye to the whole. If something doesn’t work, kill it. You can always play necromancer later, if you must.

I’m still working on my story, deconstructing, reconstructing. But the old clutter is gone, the old darlings dead and buried. Tomorrow I’ll deal with the new ones.

I will try to respond to messages as I am able. At times it may be in the form of a post or a direct email response. Guests who post, I will forward messages addressed to them. It is up to them how they decide to correspond.   — Shawn MacKENZIE – MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest

“Letters to a Young Poet” [Part V of XXIX]

rainer maria rilke letters to a young poet COVER

“Letters to a Young Poet”

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Part V of XXIX

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 18th January 2015

RILKE Painting blond

(# week)

“Why do you want
to shut out of your life
any uneasiness,
any misery,
any depression,
since after all
you don’t know
what work
these conditions are doing
inside you?
Why do you want
to persecute yourself
with the question
of where all this is coming from
and where it is going?
Since you know,
after all,
that you are in the midst
of transitions
and you wished
for nothing
so much as to change.
If there is anything
unhealthy in your reactions,
just bear in mind
that sickness
is the means by which
an organism frees itself
from what is alien;
so one must simply
help it to be sick,
to have its whole sickness
and to break out with it,
since that is the way
it gets better.”

1 home large photo

One of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Homes

Dvorak, New World Symphony – 2nd Mvt Part 2,

Dublin Philharmonic, Conductor Derek Gleeson

* * * * * * *

e.e. cummings #7 of 7

a writer's word new 14th june 2014
e.e. cummings

poem #7 of 7 part series

Post by jkm

Post Saturday 17th January 2015

White Water Lily Timelapse w/ Piano

“ spring!may—
everywhere’s here
(with a low high low
and the bird on the bough)
how?why
—we never we know
(so kiss me)shy sweet eagerly my
most dear

(die!live)
the new is the true
and to lose is to have
—we never we know—
brave!brave
(the earth and the sky
are one today)my very so gay
young love

why?how—
we never we know
(with a high low high
in the may in the spring)
live!die
(forever is now)
and dance you suddenly blossoming tree
—i’ll sing

blue dreams (c) jkm 2014

blue dreams (c) jkm 2014

Film View: “The Giver” Trailer

Glasgow Film Theatre
Film View: “The Giver” Trailer

Post by jkm/tsk

Post Friday 16th January 2015

The Giver Movie Trailer

Starring Meryl Streep & Jeff Bridges

The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined – a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. THE GIVER is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. (C) Weinstein

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Phillip Noyce , Robert Grasmere
Written By: Vadim Perelman , Lois Lowry , Robert B. Weide , Michael Mitnick
In Theaters: Aug 15, 2014 Wide
Runtime: 2 hr. 20 min.
The Weinstein Company

The Violin, and my dark night of the soul

tell me a story
The Violin, and my dark night of the soul

TED Talk: Ji-Hae Park

Post Thursday 15th January 2015

Ji-Hae Park: The Violin, and my dark night of the soul

Published on May 24, 2013
In her quest to become a world-famous violinist, Ji-Hae Park fell into a severe depression. Only music was able to lift her out again — showing her that her goal needn’t be to play lofty concert halls, but instead to bring the wonder of the instrument to as many people as possible.