Monday, September 21, 2009


After shuttling all those cute Kids out the door this morning, I grabbed the pruning shears and went to work on my overgrown shrubs. Sometimes I find myself picking up one branch and carefully, gently, snipping it so the new leaves will grow just so. Other times (most of the time) I hack.
Wield the trimmers till my arms shake with the effort of keeping them over my head.

It's like editing, you know? (See? We're doing a writing post today - did you see that coming?) In careful editing, I sit and moodle* over just the right word or phrase to get my point across. I work gently to convey an emotion or a nuance.

Then there's the highlight-and-delete parts, where huge chunks of my writing fall at my feet in clusters, and I gather them up in my arms and haul them to the trash.

And (cue the point) when I'm done, whether with the careful, precise snips or the giant jaws of the cutters, the shrub (or the story) looks neater. More organized. Cleaner. More ready for what's next, whether that's publication or autumn. And either way, my hands are shaking at the end, hoping that it's all going to be beautiful later.

* I stole (borrowed) this wonderful word from a near-perfect writing book by Brenda Ueland called "If You Want To Write." I totally recommend it. The book. And the moodling.


  1. I also hack huge chunks out but can never bring myself to haul the mess to the curb. Instead they go into a file I've labeled "Clippings" (totally true, btw) and then I guess there they compost and turn to mulch. Maybe one day I'll press delete.

  2. I'm impressed. I won't even open Word this week.

  3. I do the same thing as Melanie. I save all the little bits...but I save them in hopes of gluing them elsewhere later on.

  4. I have to save my tid-bits. I wouldn't survive the hacking otherwise.


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