Around Thanksgiving, Writer’s Digest had a free e-book download offer. I took advantage and got about 6 e-books on my iPhone. They are all books that relate to writing. Better yet, I’ve actually started reading one of them. 🙂
I’m reading Getting The Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. The book is divided into three sections: Reduce, Rearrange and Reword. I’m still in the first section, but one thing I read the other day struck a chord. It is in a section that concerns removing entire paragraphs, sections, or chapters.
‘Keep in mind always that readers do not usually know what you planned to include; they’ll never miss a deleted minor point, or even a section.’
First, that phrase immediately made me think back to when I used to play classical piano, and my father gave me sage advice before performances. He always said to keep going, no matter what. That if I messed up and hit a wrong note, or left something out, no one would notice. And he was right. To an untrained ear, a wrong note is missed. I’ve even gotten to a point in a piece where I could not remember what came next, no matter how many hours I spent practicing, and skipped a section entirely, without missing a beat.
Second, that brought to mind something I had suggested to my mother recently, in a critique of her writing. A section of one of her novels had become a little stale, even to her. I finally realized that she was headed in the complete wrong direction, and after we discussed it, figured out where the plot needed to go. This resulted in her having to delete multiple chapters. A daunting, and somewhat disappointing task to be sure, but an exciting opportunity for improvement.
So it’s true. Unless someone has read your work from the get-go, the finished product is never what it started out as, and most are never the wiser. So in this spirit, I am plunging ahead, accepting of the fact that even though I have spent countless hours ‘practicing’ and may miss a note here or there, though no one will ever know.