a ~ There will be time to murder and create

How to Murder Your Darlings

  1. Bring them into the world. Slave for them, overthink them, assign them duties and gestures that feel – at least to you – real and worthy.
  2. Love your story for a certain amount of time. A year? A day? A distracting hour? Love your characters. Love their mistakes and the things they do almost well. Love them more than you love real people. For a certain amount of time.
  3. Realize, under the harsh influence of morning clarity, that publishers are not going to call. Realize your people are ridiculous. Who says things like that? Who eats that kind of sandwich? Who the hell chooses to open an independent bookstore in a shady part of town in this economy? But if she doesn’t make that choice than none of the other things can happen. She can’t meet her seventeen-year-old lover, they can copulate under the cash register, sperm can’t meet egg. Sigh.
  4. Force your hand to not shake when you raise the scalpel. Be ruthless. If the line makes you pause, backspace, backspace, backspace.
  5. Sip your coffee. Feel industrious.
  6. Feel virtuous.
  7. Love the result for a certain amount of time. Wonder how you could have ever thought the original draft was any good at all. This draft, this is where true genius is revealed.
  8. Realize, under the harsher influence of the next day’s deeper clarity, that publishers still will not call. The characters, they’re better, maybe a little, but they still aren’t quite the people you meet in the glorious corners of the unknown world.
  9. Select. Delete. Sip your wine as evening advances. Go practice scales on the piano. You are far worse at piano than at writing. Sip more wine.
  10. Re-read in the harshness of four-in-the-morning light. Your mornings, they get earlier and earlier, don’t they? Close the document. Moan on twitter, but try to be funny about your failure. Maybe someday you’ll use a line or two. But the bulk of it can live out a silent digital imprisonment.
  11. Repeat next week, next month, next year. In between, practice your scales. 

About andi

Writer, editor, wrangler of small boys and dogs.

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