Friday, July 3, 2009

Writers' Block, Kitchens, and Cold-blooded Murder

Yesterday, my husband and I had a pity-fest about the state of crazy our life is in.

I’m revising a novel, which is sort of like writing a novel when you're in the throes of it—except that you have a mess of unintelligible words to break through instead of a blank page. Husband is remodeling our kitchen. He’s not a contractor or a plumber, electrician, or carpenter. He’s just a regular guy who watches a lot of HGTV.

Anyway, our kitchen is currently the equivalent of a blank page—nothing but a wood box waiting for some building to happen. I said to a friend the other day, “Our house has no heart.”

Husband is feeling a little overwhelmed regarding what to do next.

To this, I answered, “It’s just like writing a novel—sometimes you have to take it one chapter, one page—one word even—at a time. Eventually, hopefully, you have a whole book.”

Then I took my own advice. I printed out a chapter and edited it old-school style: red pen to paper, slashing each repeated idea, adding whole sentences, questioning every word. Every. Single. Word.

After 5 pages, I emailed my beta: “There’s so much red it looks like I murdered chapter 14!”

So there you go, random blog-reading people. Stuck? Overwhelmed? Wondering whether you should just open a new document and start anew?

I recommend printing out a do-able amount, a page if that’s all you can handle, a paragraph. Take out your red pen and murder your darlings. Your changes will have you feeling like a vampire after a dose of the good human stuff.

Happy holidays, murderers!

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