Shredding, Editing, and Dance Parties
I’m knee deep in revisions and edits, which can harrowing. I don’t mind. I have a long history of revising and line editing all sorts of things for people: job applications, personal statements, artist statements, obituaries, fiction, angry letters to persons of questionable moral fiber, etc. I used to tell people I could make their writing sound like themselves on their very best day.
I’m trying to sound like me on my very best day, so I’m working on a rewards system:
- Cut 5 words from a sentence = Dance party of one
- Paragraph cut = Coffee with fluffy stuff
- Fixing awful metaphor = Selfie added to “folder of victorious faces that no one shall ever see”
- Plot hole fixed = 30 minutes composing sonnets to Tom Mison’s wig on Sleepy Hollow (it’s a really good wig—worthy of bad poetry).
While this is happening, I’m also doing some estate management and cleaning out my childhood home. I’ve had the strange experience of shredding paperwork from 1976 all the way to 2010. If filing were an Olympic sport, Mom would have brought home USA gold.
Strangely, shredding and revising are not so different. As I work my way through umpteen tons of receipts and whatnot, I get to remember little things I’d forgotten, places we ate, museums we went to, gifts—the shape of years. Then I get to smile, say goodbye, and feed them to the shredder. Going through a draft means finding old writing, remembering what I felt when I put it there, why l liked the shape of those words, and knowing that they were needed then but aren’t any longer. I get to smile, remember, and say goodbye. Then I get to make it better.
No, it isn’t always fun, but it’s for the greater good, and sometimes it can be wonderful.