September 21, 2009 by Tracey S. Rosenberg
I’ve been working on a lot of short pieces lately – partly because (as I swear I’ve blogged about, but I cannot find an entry) I tend to work on short pieces when the big ones feel like an endless slog, and partly because there are a lot of Scottish/Scottish-based markets with deadlines in the next month and a half. (I seem to be locating myself within the Scottish literary scene, so here’s my attempt to see whether they agree.)
Since the start of September I’ve written two poems, overhauled a third, and revised a short story that’s been hanging around for a while. When I say revised, I mean smoothing out the prose – removing scaffolding and clutter, taking away weak clauses and descriptions and repetitions, and generally making it easier to read – as opposed to replotting. The most substantial edit was changing a few of the names.
And yet without even noticing until I had a look at the word counter, I reduced the story from 3544 words to 3124 words. 420 words – 11.8% of the story – GONE.
I’ve always been a proponent of the theory that if you delete something and don’t notice it’s missing, it isn’t necessary. This becomes tougher when you’re working on a project for a long time, because it’s more difficult to tell if something is necessary or simply hanging around in your mind. In this type of situation, though, it’s mind-boggling how much extra junk I was happily living with.
(Looks warily at the bookshelves and piles of papers nearby.)