Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Getting Rid of the Clutter


Hi-ya. Welcome to this month's edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting... er, virtual meeting, that is. This, the first Wednesday of the month, is the time when writers all over the world post about the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ins and outs... of writing. We celebrate... we complain... we commiserate. Whatever we need, this is the place to find it. Humble thanks and a jolly tip of the hat go to Alex Cavanaugh, our fearless ninja leader and the originator of this fine group. If you'd like to join (It's FREE!) or would like to read some of the other posts, please go HERE

First off... YES!!! I finally finished writing the first draft of Blast Rites. (Thank yew, thank yew, thank yew very much...) Now comes the fun stuff. I'm currently deep in the throes of rewriting and editing, so before answering the question of the month, I'm gonna share a gently-used and slightly updated post from May, 2011, originally titled Some Pets Have Gotta Go! Yep... it's about the joys of editing. Kind of appropriate, don't ya think?

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Thought for the day:  If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one, what do you call it?


It's hard to say goodbye.

Do you have a bunch of stuff around your house that you can't let go? I'm not talking about necessities; I'm talking about those unique treasures from your past that still manage to pluck your heartstrings like a two-bit harp.

Like my cheap-o fifth grade orchestra pin. It still occupies a place of honor in my jewelry box, along with a "lucky stone" I found when I was in second grade, and a neat-o metal typeset of my name that came from a field trip to the Baltimore Sun (newspaper) building, which I, in fact, missed, because I had the measles. None of those items will mean anything to our children when I'm gone, but somehow, I can't bring myself to part with them.



                                    And records. Have I ever got records! My favorites are the 45s.


It's probably time to tell those records sayonara, but like Celine Dion sang, "It's hard to say goodbye." Not that any of these records are anywhere near as recent as Ms. Dion's birth. No, these treasures are Elvis records, Little Richard, (when he was still a young rough and tumble rock 'n' roller) the Coasters, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, and Rosemary Clooney singing about "This Ol' House."  They're the Drifters, Dion & the Belmonts, (before he went solo) and Eddie Fisher singing "Dungaree Doll." The McGuire Sisters, Artie Shaw and his orchestra playing "Star Dust"  (one of my favorite songs of all time) and Jerry Lee Lewis on the old Memphis, TN Sun label. Treasures, I tell you, treasures!

                                    Not that I've played any of them in the past forty-five years.


The fact that I don't have a good-working turntable is beside the point. If I wanted one badly enough, I'd buy one. But why should I? I don't NEED one.

No, all I have to do is look at these old records and admire their brightly-colored labels and sleeves to remember my first record player with its wobbly turntable, which could only play one record at a time. To play a 45, you had to put a plastic piece into the larger record hole to make it fit. Had to tape a penny to the arm to make it heavy enough to play the records right, too. Then, my brother got the portable RCA player. All it played was 45s, and you could put on a whole stack at one time. (Like Sarah Vaughan crooned, The record player's automatic ... ba-by.) One look at these records, and I'm bopping in the club basement with my girl friends, or dancing cheek-to-cheek at the teen center. So I don't have to actually HEAR them ... to hear them in my heart.

What got me to thinking about those old records is the editing I'm doing on my novel right now.  Know what? It's every bit as hard to cut words as it is to get rid of records. What's funny is that some of the parts getting the axe are the ones that I sweated the most blood over while laboring to give them birth. Witty stuff. Clever stuff. Stuff that makes me smile and laugh out loud.

But it's gotta go! Because it injects ME into the book and serves to draw the reader away from the story. No matter how much I love those words, it doesn't serve the book if the reader stops to admire my writing. Damn it.

So, the words are going. I delivered 'em, and now I'm killing 'em. And the book will be better for it. And some day, those records will go, too, I promise. But not yet.

How about you? What treasures are you holding onto from your past? No matter how illogical it is to hang onto them, they sure do bring us comfort, don't they?

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And now, it's time for the (ta-DA!)...
Question of the month:  What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Hmmmm, let me think about that a sec...

Okay, I've got it!

I've learned that writers are the most creative, supportive, insecure people in the world. That means they've got my back, and I've got theirs, so none of us is ever...

alone.


Our craziness, imaginations, and love of the written word unite us, and that is abso-freaking-lutely awesome.









Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

57 comments:

  1. HUGE congratulations on finishing your first draft. I can so understand how hard it must be to kill your babies, no matter how necessary.
    And I am really, really looking forward to the end result. Which is now making me feel a bit complicit in torture and murder...

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    1. Thanks! Yes, you're right. It really is hard to cut out those scenes, especially the ones that make us laugh.

      Nope, no torture in my book... unless you count the psychological kind. There may, however, be a murder... :)

      Delete
  2. Treasures from the past? Gosh, where do I start. Two of the most comfortable t-shirts ever made that I can't wear anymore because there's no armpits left, just gaping holes above and below the seam that holds the sleeve. My favourite satin nighties that I don't fit into anymore. I keep them because maybe one day I will. All of my name badges from working in a supermarket. We weren't supposed to decorate them, so of course I did and would get handed a nice new one, which I then decorated....I have seven of them, including the gold coloured one I got for ten years service. I have knick-knacks that I know the kids will just throw away when I'm gone, old Birthday and Mother's Day cards, gazillions of old photos. And a bunch of old records too.

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    1. I LOVE that you're hanging onto some favorite articles of clothing that aren't fit to wear, or don't fit at all. Me, too. I have a number of really pretty dressed in size 2, and I keep kidding myself that I'll be able to fit in them again some day. Yeah, right! If I ever do get that small again, the dresses will probable be dry-rotted.

      Very cool that you have some old records, too. I wouldn't be surprised if we have some of the same ones. :)

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  3. P.S. Congratulations on your book. I hope the editing process isn't too painful, or too long.

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    1. Thanks. It'll probably be longer than I'd like, but it's also kinda fun. (I must be a masochist.)

      Delete
  4. Well done on finishing that first draft!

    I love your answer to this month's question. So true!

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  5. Yes, we all hold on (too long), but it is so hard to let go of what is part of us, including our words and ideas. How wonderful that you have your first draft and I wish you well on the editing.

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    1. The hardest thing about holding onto things (too long) that are dear to us is the realization that they have little or no meaning to anyone else after we're gone. The kids and grandkids have enough of their own treasure. :)

      Thank you, ma'am.

      Delete
  6. A good clear out is cleansing for the soul, and you are so right about it being hard to do. I like the correlation to editing-- same thing, but it does make the writing better!

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    1. No pain, no gain? It's still tough to let some things go, even when we know it's for our own good and the good of our books. Kinda like taking cod liver oil, I reckon.

      Delete
  7. Yep, editing is just like that. Sometimes you have to throw out what you worked hard to put in there. Congrats on getting the first draft done.

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    1. Yep, ain't that the truth? The parts you sweat over the most are usually the ones that have to go.

      Thanks. Now the real work begins.

      Delete
  8. Congratulations on finishing that first draft.

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  9. I have some things that were my mother's. She died very young. The items mean nothing to anyone else, and nothing is collectible. They're in a box I cart around from house to house. I probably haven't opened the box in ten years or more. It's just knowing I have something she touched.

    Totally true about writers!

    That one remaining items must be an odd end.

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    1. I think it's endearing that you tote that box around with you from house to house. It doesn't matter if you never peek into that box again. Just having something that was hers is enough.

      Odd end works for me!

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  10. I, too, have lots of records & no working turntable!!

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    1. Great minds and sentimental old broads think alike.

      Delete
  11. Yes they are!
    You can buy a turntable that plugs into your computer and record all of those old records. And then you can chuck them.

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    1. Chuck them??? Such sacrilege!

      Yeah, yeah, I know. Maybe some day...

      Delete
  12. Congrats on finishing the first draft!

    I have two boxes of old notebooks with the books I wrote as a kid/teen. I can't throw those away.

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    1. Thanks!

      No, DON'T throw those old notebooks away. Maybe you can share them with your own children some day.

      Delete
  13. Ok, I'll get rid of my old school books, and my new books too. I'll give away my clothes and shoes, bags and purses.I'll throw off old magazines - even though I like them - and rugs that I keep under a bed in the guest's room.

    But no-one will ever touch my records. Or I'll bite.

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    1. HA! Good to know. Enjoy those old records.

      Delete
  14. I am saving things that will have no meaning to anyone but me, things from my parents, grandparents, even my great grandmother, I think it's more about the memories than the items but I'm still holding on, I have a five dollar bill in my wallet from 1988 that my Granny gave me, it's worth a million to me but when I'm gone it'll spend like any other fiver.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The same could be said about many, if not all, of my treasures. Monetary value doesn't matter nearly as much to me as sentimental value, and those things only hold sentimental value to me.

      Delete
  15. Nope, you are not alone and you aren't THAT crazy either. Good luck with all that editing. You will find the pot of gold underneath any clutter. Heck yeah, I've got albums and no turntable. Otherwise, I'm not a big "treasure" hoarder. One box has some sentimental stuff. Words are all we truly have.

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    1. Not THAT crazy? Thanks... I'll take it! I'm actually looking forward to unearthing gold and polishing it up all shiny and pretty. (Here's hoping it isn't fool's gold!)

      Oh yeah... I've got LOTS of words...

      Delete
  16. Compliments on your progress! You also hit a nerve --happily not my last one-- about old records. I do have a turntable and several albums by Ian and Sylvia, but now listen to them on YouTube. Have spent evening translating their beautiful song, "Si Les Bateaux", into English and still don't know what to make of it. It seems to end with a guy threatening to hang himself if he has to go to Ireland, which can't be right. This is the kind of misunderstanding good editors try to correct, or is it? I don't know but I appreciate the energy you invest in your craft.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks, dude!

      Hey, at least you still have a turntable. I'm not familiar with that song, but that sounds a rather weird interpretation. Does that title mean "If the Boats"? I'll have to check it out.

      Delete
  17. Hi Susan - oh getting rid of things ... an essential - I'm scanning my photos at the moment ... long hard road! But I've found some gems and then of course I look for more info on this thing and find other interesting bits that add in to the puzzle of life ...

    That's great the book is coming together and you're thinking about losing a few of those early items ... I guess a photo shoot could help ... you may not have the item, but you have the memory ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary.

      Wow, I'm very impressed with you scanning your photos. I have a bazillion albums. Not only ours, but my parents', and my grandparents'. PLUS boxes of photos that haven't ever found their way into an album. Good luck with that. I'm sure it's quite an undertaking.

      Thank you.

      Cheers back atcha.

      Delete
  18. Hi Susan,

    HOLD on to those 45's! They are worth a small fortune now with the rebirth of the turntable. Same with some of those lovely words. I totally believe in word economy and flow, but sometimes leaving a little bit of the author in makes the read more interesting. We all need to laugh and find wit in writing.

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    1. Hi-ya, Michael.

      I'm holding, I'm holding! I think jukeboxes are making a comeback, too.

      Agreed. As long as the author isn't TOO visible.

      Delete
  19. Editing anything and everything in our life is a given, friend Sue ... From thoughts to deeds to future ... It is good to sort through potential rummage on a regular basis ... so sort in or sort out ... and if you are not sure, keep it until it sorts itself out ... Love, cat.

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    1. Oh, if ONLY things would "sort themselves out"... less work for ME!

      Delete
  20. That RCA record player was the only thing I remember ever getting as a birthday or Christmas present that wasn't a knock-off. Thanks Mom & Dad.

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    1. And that record player got a LOT of use! (By THEM, too, if I remember right...)

      Delete
  21. Editing is harder that drafting. We all like creating the draft, no matter how long it is. Getting rid of parts of it is always hard. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. I disagree. The initial draft is harder for me. Sometimes, I just have to force myself to keep going. NOW, I have something to work with. You can't create a polished gem without first having a stone. :)

      Greetings back atcha.

      Delete
  22. Editing is definitely one of the harder parts of writing.

    www.ficklemillennial.com

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    1. Editing takes a while, but I enjoy it. It's FUN!

      Delete
  23. Ten years ago, I was going through stuff before we moved to Florida. I came across old records, stored away in a box because we hadn't played them in decades. My son said, "What are these...like big black CDs?" So I took them to the Salvation Army. Fast forward 10 years, and those things are making a comeback. Why am I the bad guy all of a sudden? LOL.

    Congratulations on finishing the first draft!

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    1. That's funny. It's kinda like my kids giving me such a hard time for wearing my old out-of-date clothes. (Hey! They still fit!) When I finally succumbed to their taunts and got rid of them... you guessed it... they came back into style.

      Thanks!

      Delete
  24. Congratulations on "Blast Rites" first hurdle! (I'd have italicized it, were blogger polite enough to include that option.) I can't wait to read it!

    There's a certain scarlet cocktail gown (ca. '83) to which I've a strong connection. 'Tried once sending it to an upscale consignment shop but it was rejected for not being 'in style.' Yeay ... the Universe knows we're meant to be together. Perhaps I can have it cut up and included in a quilt someday?

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I wish Blogger let us use italics in our comments, too. (Or maybe it does, and we just don't know HOW...)

      HA! How insulting! Not in style? Pbbbbbt! Hang on to it long enough and I guarantee you it'll be BACK in style. My problem is hanging onto my favorite old size 2 clothes as if I'll EVER be able to squeeze my butt in them again... :)

      Yeah, I guess you could include that dress in a quilt, or maybe you could remake it into something else you could wear? I mean... it's SCARLET, for goodness sake! Scarlet deserves to be WORN.

      Delete
  25. First draft! YIPPEE! *tosses cheese confetti* Way to go!

    And I completely agree with you on the whole supportive community. They're epic, eh? I mean, we're epic, eh?

    My hubby keeps all his old video games around. He could never play them again, but he insists they can't go. They must sit in the closet, or their box and continue to accumulate dust--since they do periodically spark a good memory. LOL. I kept a toy collection, but to be fair, my daughters have inherited it, so it's not just stuff.

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    1. Thanks! (Better grab that confetti quickly before it melts...)

      Why yes, they... we... are pretty darned cool.

      If it makes you feel any better about your hubby games, we still have some 8-track tapes. :) Hey, NONE of it is just "stuff." All of it serves as visual memories.

      Delete
  26. Before my move I had to get rid of a lot of stuff, including books. That was hard. I recently cut a whole chapter from my WIP. It took I don't know how many reads to finally admit that one of my CPs was right: that chapter did zip for the story.

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    1. Ouch! It's always hard to part with books. They're like personal friends.

      Cutting that chapter must have been difficult, too. I'm getting rid of my prologue, but partway through the draft, I stopped breaking down into chapters, so I don't have to worry about dropping a chapter. Just words... a LOT of words.

      Delete
  27. Congrats on finishing that first draft! The only 'draft' I've finished lately comes in a 14 ounce glass.

    The funny thing is, I'm a pack rat too. But only with physical items. When it comes to novels, I'm all too happy to take a verbal axe to my writing and just keep chopping away until I hack off all of the bad writing.

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    1. Thanks! As for the other kind of "draft," does root beer count?

      Delete
  28. Well done on finishing your first draft!
    I do have a type of 'keepsakes' box for my little treasures as I call them ...
    Little treasures can, and do, mean such a lot.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks! (It sure took me long enough!)

      Yes, those little treasures do mean a lot. They may not be "worth" a lot, but they can be far more valuable than money.

      Delete
  29. I have way too many "treasures" around my house. I really do need to sort through it all and get rid of a great deal of it. My husband will retire in a couple of years, and we are hoping to downsize then. I need to start now in order to be ready for two years from now! Ha! Hope you have a nice weekend!

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