Moving house is kind of like revising a manuscript.
Stay with me … it’s not that much of a stretch.
My family just moved from the house we’ve lived in for the past fifteen years. So much much can accumulate in that much time. So much STUFF! We culled when we packed things away and culled again when those things went to the storage shed. Now, I’m not a hoarder — neither is the hubby — although I do still own my English texts from high school. Wuthering Heights is a favourite, okay. So is Paradise Lost … and Romeo and Juliet. Chaucer, well he’s … I can’t part with all those old words! It’s just English texts though, I didn’t keep anything else, promise. Forgive me; we’re all book people here, right?
Anyway, during the past few weeks as I’ve been unpacking boxes and discovering things I couldn’t possibly part with six months ago on the second cull, I’m realising that the old dinner set really has to go. As does the painting that just doesn’t match the style of my new house.
My perception has changed over time.
And sometimes it’s like that with our writing too. Today, I opened up the file for my third Oxley College book. The first draft has sat on my hard drive just waiting for attention since before we started this big move and it’s uncanny. In many ways drafts are the same as moving house. When we first write a story every single word is precious; a valued member of the word count we worked so hard to achieve. But nothing is perfect. On the first read through we might notice some issues that need tweaking, scenes that need cutting, or even something that’s missing and needs to be added. But like my first cull, sometimes our hoarder blinkers are still on and we might want to hold onto that darling scene because it gave us all the feels when we wrote it, or to that setting which is a master piece of the modern written word, even though neither of them really move the plot forward. And this my friends, is why it’s so important to step away from our work for a while before the final revision.
Sometimes, the longer the break the better.
With time, when we go back to a story, we can often see it more clearly. Notice what really shouldn’t be there, what should, what we’d been hoarding.
Most writers and stories need multiple revisions or edits — and a descent amount of time between each — to allow the story time to breathe.
That’s the point I’m at now. I’ve just returned to this story (in it’s third draft) and I need to perform the final cull to make it as shiny as possible. Wish me luck!
But before you do, I want to know what you’re a sucker for hoarding. For me it’s old books — we had 15 boxes of books!! And that isn’t including the kids’ books.