I’m a hoarder.
There. I said it.
You can count on me to overload my plate of food at parties because I worry about when I will eat again–a hangover from those college days, I presume. Or when I have to dip into my savings account a little piece of me dies because I like to see numbers go up, not down. I wants it. I must haves ALL of it, precious.
Not sure where this hoarding practice emerged from. Since childhood, my self-control poops out of my ears when I attend banquets. As a result, giving nearby competitors the hairy eyeball, I pile whatever I can onto a plate and rush for a safe, dark corner to revel in my spoils. I have been known to retrieve a second plate of food just in case the first plate disappoints me. The thought that I was a dog in a former life, burying bones in the backyard has not passed me over.
As one might expect, this lifelong tendency has fed into my writing. Those “the craft of writing” articles that shrewdly advise killing your darlings (i.e. sentences, etc.) made no sense to me a few weeks ago. For why would I delete perfectly fine sentences? I mean, I like that sentence about the hero’s porpoise. Really do. I cannot delete it. I refuse!
Killing your darlings works for bigger subjects, like axing prominent world building elements or even characters. Why would I do that when all I want to do is pile them on my plate and glower from a dark corner, delighting in my prizes?
Well, having gone through my first round of revisions with my editor, I realized in a rare moment of clarity that, well, the simpler the world building or language or character’s motivations, the better. Cut out all of the fluff, delete sections that do nothing to move the story forward, and what remains is the novel I meant to tell from the beginning. This begs the question—where the hell did that extra crap come from in the first place? But I digress.
Simplification, Abby. Less is more. I have been told variations of this adage many times and I’ve been following through with it in my personal life. So why not use the same attitude in regard to my novel? Why do I turn Gollum-esque whenever food and writing cross my path? Like anything I do, only once I’m ready to see and accept it on my own do I put the newfound genius into action. And when I do (much to Mr. T’s frustration), I own the epiphany like it was my idea from the get-go. But whatever it takes for me to come around, right?
All I’m saying is that if you are a word hoarder like me, don’t be frightened by simplification. You might be surprised at how leaving words, sentences, characters or even world building elements on the cutting room floor enriches your story. When this happens, unicorns fly and fairies dance. No really, they do.