My Pages section full of notes, ideas and articles needs a good prune. This is a piece i dashed off and posted somewhere in the dim past. Some of the work I’ve been deleting has seemed to me dated and cringe making. But I think this one is worth a revisit.
Slash and Burn. It’s what I do all the time, even when I’m asleep. I could toss each idea off in half an hour if I didn’t stop for a caffeine fix to inspire me, or a choc chip muffin, or a pit stop or two. Maybe an hour.
I have to think about how to structure my idea first then flesh it out and then I’m set. Well, maybe not plan it out, if I’m being truthful. I’m usually in too much of a hurry to get that idea down. I will write reams and reams in the white hot heat of inspiration, then realise I have gone seriously off track and go back to the drawing board, minus the coffee and the muffin.
Okay, so it takes longer than an hour. I don’t read how-to manuals and I don’t stop to think my ideas through. It’s my failing. When I finally get round to realising it, I have to consider the reams of drivel I’ve put together. I can’t exactly start from scratch any more so I’m stuck with the tedious job of slash and burn and cut and paste. Precious words and ideas disappear into the electronic ether. I’m not sure which is more painful, the red editing pen or the highlight and delete buttons. Maybe the former, because the image of that colour is impressed on my retina long after the deleting is all done. So, okay, maybe two hours, who’s counting?
To get slightly off topic, I’ve often wished could slash and burn when speaking. You know, have some editing type switch in my brain. My son tells me that our conversations can be torture. Even a simple ‘how are you, mum’? All his time and energy is taken up working through the detritus to get to the essence of the response: ‘I’m fine, darling.’ There’s no red pen or off switch to talking, more’s the pity. Well, maybe not. It has taken years, but I have finally got it, that verbal diarrhoea is what makes me a writer of sorts. It’s all about the words for me. I tend to verbalise an idea to death then get it down on paper. Talking a thing through helps what’s stuck in the subconscious come to the fore. That’s what I think, anyhow and I’m sticking to it. Otherwise, I’m just a garrulous old bird.
Am I contradicting myself? One minute I’m saying that I tend to write things down without thinking them through and then I’m telling you that talking helps my ideas take shape. I am contradicting myself I suppose, but then I am the sum of my many parts. I have been known to do both. Actually there are many methods and tactics that I use to get me to the other side. I suspect that most writers are like that, which is why there are many how -to books but not one definitive one. Have I got off the topic of slash and burn? Back to the beginning