The Cutting-Room Floor

I have heard nothing more about the status of my book.  Life has gone on, full as ever, but I feel like I’ve hit ctrl-A on my entire existence and underlined it with waiting.

The waiting is good.  Patience is good.  I don’t have enough of it.  Honing it is good for me.  As a middle school teacher, I should ideally have bags and bags of patience, but it’s never been a strong suit.  I am terribly impatient.  I hover.  I am a hoverer.  When my husband reads something I’ve written, I hover nearby and wait for him to laugh or make a noise, so that I can say “What?  What was funny?” and spoil the experience for him.  These past two weeks, I’ve hovered over my e-mail, as if checking it more often will speed a reply.  But it won’t, and I shouldn’t want it to, because I’m getting good work done.

I’m cutting.  I’ve been asked to cut 50-100 pages of my book.  I understand why, so I’m doing it.  And to be honest, cutting is work I enjoy.  It’s ruthless work.  I’m rereading the story I love with a knife in hand, slicing away weakness and repetition and adverbs.  Lots of adverbs.  I love cutting adverbs, because it allows me to see that the things I wrote have their own legs and don’t need extra support – most of the time.  Some of the adverbs are shiny and lovely and true, and those can stay.  The rest must go to the slaughter.  I’m using Track Changes as I cut, and as I scroll up through the changes, the balloons that line the right side of the manuscript are bloated with adverbs.  Perhaps the most embarrassing (enlightening?) part of this process is seeing how often I use the same ones.

Of course, cutting adverbs won’t downsize this manuscript by 50-100 pages.  I have to cut some of the actual story.  That part is going to hurt. 


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