Today I could write!
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, writing was like pulling teeth, but today I managed to finish the first draft of Tabinda’s story and begin the final edits. I love this part. Although I use a word processor to write, when it comes to checking through the draft, I prefer having real sheets of paper on my desk to read through. So, I print the manuscript off, sharpen my pencil and begin scything through the text, cutting out sentences, paragraphs and sometimes entire chapters without a qualm. I’m that hard, me. ‘Murder your darlings’ as Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch advised in his essay ‘On the Art of Writing’ delivered to Cambridge University in 1914 (thank you Google).
‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of finely executed writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before you send your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.’
It is sound advice – for the sake of pace, usually – and I have followed it throughout my writing career. Would-be writers who can’t bear to cull their offerings tend to remain just that. Would-be.
After the pencil work I’ll return to the screen and make the changes, print the story off again (I never said it was an environmentally friendly method) and go through the same process. This time there should be fewer corrections; it’s more a matter of attention to detail this time – a better word here, a tightening of a sentence there. Individual sheets are printed this time instead of the whole thing, although this can be annoying when the changes impact on the layout and. After that I leave it for a day or two before coming back to read it through again with fresher eyes. Finally, after a few more adjustments that I previously missed, it should be ready to post.