Monday, October 21, 2013

An Edited Life

[Note: I regret that I have not been blogging all summer and into the fall. Fools that we are, my wife and I entered the insane mid-2013 real estate market, selling our home (or trying to) and finally purchasing a townhouse. The whole crazy process wiped six months off my writing life. This new post addresses just one of many lessons learned from the whole experience.]

Downsizing means just that. The capacity for all things material is reduced in proportion to the "down." For me, this meant tossing a lot of my treasured "stuff" overboard: clothing, books, priceless junk, 40-year-old lesson plans . . . .  The image that kept coming to me was that moving was a lot like editing one of my manuscripts.

The first draft looks like the three-car garage we had at our former house. To fit both cars and all our excess stuff into a smaller home and a two-car garage required a lot of editing. In a manuscript, there are the usual suspects quickly sentenced to extinction: 'ly' adverbs, bloated adjectives, those other dead-weight adverbs (like 'very' and 'very, very'). Then there are those nasty, unnecessary duplications (the reader already knows this, so why say it again).

One would think that a professional editor would be a natural at tossing and downsizing. I suppose there is some inbred advantage. But then there are those 'little darlings' that have been with me for half-a-century. I appeal to Caesar (actually, my wife Esther) for mercy. Her thumb goes down without a second's hesitation. But I just can't pull the trigger. They make the cut, though every bit of my brain matter admits that she is right.

And so, it never fails that, when I read my book in print, I wish I had listened to the editor in me rather than the sentimental hoarder.

Alfred J. Garrotto is the author of the novel

(c) 2013 by Alfred J. Garrotto