Monday, June 29, 2009
DEADHEADING AND PINCHING BACK
Seems my morning rounds in the yard take longer and longer each day. Not because, I'm watering more, but because the plants are requiring a good pinching back and deadheading. Sometimes I am brutal, not even sparing a slightly faded bloom. Off with his head! I declare while I dig my fingernail into the stem. I know the payoff will be a fuller plant with more flowers.
Sometimes I have trouble sacrificing the blooms. Maybe later, I'll reason, maybe this is the best it will look. Isn't a little color from leggy stems better than nothing?
This dilemma extends beyond the garden. As far as first drafts go, I tend to underwrite. Rich details and developed characters require many drafts. Still there are eliminations to face, pinching back scenes and deadheading needless words. Those acts don't happen without a struggle. Maybe I fall in love with a sentence even though in my gut I know the line doesn't fit the story or character. This happened while writing When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. My editor pointed out a paragraph that she didn't think belonged. "The writing is lovely," she said, "but I just don't think Toby would say that."
I disagreed and decided against cutting it. This went on with each draft--Christy gently pleading for me to revisit the paragraph, me refusing to do surgery. Finally at the last step that I could make changes, she asked, "If you won't cut it, would you consider changing the words a bit so that they sound like something Toby would say?"
This time I reread the part with an open mind. She was right. I cut the sentences. The chapter was better because of it, and of course, ultimately so was the book.
Pruning plants brings forth a bountiful garden. Pruning our writing means reaping rewards, too.
Posted by Kimberly at 4:00 AM