Saturday, August 28, 2010

Delete Your Darlings

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. - Samuel Johnson
(courtesy iGoogle Quotes of the Day)

Best. Advice. Ever.

This was the hardest thing for me to accept as I entered the home stretch with "To The Ones...". On an intellectual level, I realized that I wasn't objective about some parts of the manuscript. A lot of that's because there are scenes in there derived from real-life experiences with my kids, and it's hard to separate neutral-to-negative comments about the associated writings from neutral-to-negative comments about the events and kids themselves. Of course, that's complete nonsense, which I know - on one level.

I had some great and generously honest feedback on my manuscript that left me with two choice: reject the consistent feedback of poets I admire and defend my personal position on poems I'd been close to for years, or accept that maybe - just maybe - I might not be seeing those poems clearly.

You'll have to read the book for yourself and tell me whether I was successful in processing the feedback, but my clear intent was to listen.

I've also passed Johnson's advice along to other writers; usually I add "because those are the parts you're not objective about". Aside from "Read, read, read", I think it's the best guidance a writer can take to heart.

What's your favorite bit of advice?

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