Me and my beat-up manuscript resized


This is where I am. I printed the whole thing out this morning (my printer is demanding a new toner cartridge), and started cutting, quite literally, and rearranging. I think all the existing scenes are in the right order now. I’ve got blank sheets with a few hand-written notes for scenes to be added. And several sections with a big note at the top that says: Probably CUT. Everything is clipped according to which section of the outline it goes with.

Here’s what it looks like put back together.

rough rough manuscript resized

Satisfying, somehow, to have it all printed out, even if it is still crap. Feels more real. I wrote that. I can’t tell if it’s actually longer than my college honors thesis, which seemed so immense at the time, but I think the thesis was probably a fourth this long. Who knows. Memory is a funny thing.

I worry, in fact, about it being too long. Where can I cut? Where can I cut? Which scenes don’t I need? What can it live and breathe without?

I feel this way about my life too.

I’m tired. I’ve been getting up at 5am for months now to work on this book. It’s taking its toll. I slept all afternoon Saturday and Sunday. I’m still tired. Our naturopath told us recently that unless we can find a way to get a break, like maybe two weeks in Hawaii once a year (originally, I typed “once a month” here, and caught it on a re-read. Ha. My subconscious is maybe sending me a message?), our bodies are just going to keep breaking down and keep having to be fixed. We’ve been slogging for a long time.

But what can I cut? What can I live and breathe without?

My extended family? I make the effort to go see them… an expensive and time-intensive prospect that leaves little time nor money for weeks in Hawaii. I do this because I love them and I know I won’t always have them.

My pets? They rely on me. The streets or euthanasia without us. Not a viable option.

My kids? They’re my kids. Don’t be daft.

My clients? They take care of me. I don’t see the poorhouse as a viable option.

Business development? An option. But without biz dev, I have no long-term plan that will get us off the treadmill.

My husband? Ha. Not even close. He feeds me, emotionally and spiritually. AND literally–he does this magical and wonderful thing called cooking. Besides: Life without him would be a barren wasteland by comparison. What would be the point?

Self care? Hm. I take care of myself when I remember so I don’t get sick and lose the ability to do all of the above. Seems important.

I’ve already cut these scenes: Television, video games, house cleaning, laundry (though I am rather tired of pulling dirty dress pants out and putting them through the dryer with Febreze twenty minutes before a client session always only having one clean pair of pants ready), hanging with the kids, hanging with friends (mostly), hostessing, and pretty much anything having to do with food except whatever bare minimum I can get away with and not have DSS showing up at the door.

I don’t see what else I can cut. Not really, not viably and responsibly and in any way that will ultimately be more fulfilling. So I suppose I’ve gotta just keep cutting the sleep scenes. Those are always boring anyway.

What are you cutting from your life so you can write? What are you cutting from your book?

P.S. Look closely at the picture at the top. That is indeed a spare tire fat around my midriff. I asked Carey to airbrush it out. He said okay. I said, no, don’t. I want him to do it. And I won’t let him do it. I believe in the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. This is what sitting at a computer and eating chocolate to stay awake looks like. I won’t airbrush the ugly details out of my life. I am chubby. I’m gradually writing that scene out of my life. Unfortunately, it requires adding these scenes: Weight Watchers and running. The latter takes no extra time–already walking the dog. Now I run the dog. The former adds a couple extra hours to my life: Weekly meetings and tracking every bite I eat. Cutting sometimes requires adding. Just like when revising a novel.



13 thoughts on “Cutting

  1. I wonder if it was always this way or if this is what the economy has forced out of us? I used to think I was lucky to live where and when I do, but now I think I have it just as bad as everyone else did through history. We all have to shovel shit. Only the shit’s different.

    I know what you mean about cutting. Sometimes I think I need to cut exercise and just let myself be fat. But, not being in a relationship and probably wanting that one day, I can’t really let myself go. Yet.

    I’d cut a relationship before Mad Men, though.

    • I wonder the same thing, Jaimie. Actually, I’m pretty darn sure the economy has a lot to do with our slogging. Carey’s job ended, and there were no jobs like it available–when nobody’s creating product, nobody needs a product director.

      Now we work four times harder for one-third the income.

      We’re still lucky. I’ve got friends who work minimum wage, despite incredible talent and work ethic, and they can’t even afford luxuries like going to visit extended family.

      This economy sucks, and the reports aren’t telling the whole truth. Real people are hurting way way way more than anyone wants to let on, and it’s not really getting that much better, at least not fast.

      Haha on Mad Men! Carey and I started watching it. The first episode was kinda meh, but someone else seconded your opinion and said to keep watching. So, when/if I have a minute that I want to spend watching something, I’ll try the next episode. Don’t think I’ll trade Carey for it though. :p

  2. You are stunningly beautiful in this picture! I love how long your hair has gotten, and a post you wrote long ago led me to make peace with all muffin tops–mine and others! As I am sure you know, I am subscribed to your blog, so I am notified everytime you post, but have not read for the past couple of weeks. The title today got my attention AND I AM SO GLAD IT DID! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! YOU ARE AMAZING!! Life at my parents’ is very simple, so I am actually -adding- homeschooling, job search, church search, greater submission, primal cooking and farming into my life right now. Somehow, no matter how crazy life gets, Solomon was right: “there is a time for everything” :) Love you!

    • ABBY. Thank you. So very very much.

      I want so very much to be happy and comfortable with the rounder me. It’s funny because I never ever ever judge anyone else for however much weight they do or do not carry. Everybody, everybody is so beautiful to me, especially when they are being their own radiantly true selves. Why can’t I be that kind to myself?

      On the other hand, there’s a practical reason I’m doing Weight Watchers again: It’s that or buy a whole new wardrobe. I suspect the wardrobe would be more expensive and likely just as time consuming. So it’s the weight that will go.

      Besides, I’m vain and I see myself through the filter of our current cultural definition of “beauty.” It’s a character flaw I’m planning to live with for now because cutting it would require adding something else and I just don’t have the energy.

      And thank you for everything else too.

      Love you so much! Would love to hear about your farming adventures.

      • P.S. Do you remember which magical post of mine led to this peace you tell of? lol. Maybe it will help me too, to take my own medicine. :)

        • I have google-searched, archive-searched, and edit-find-searched and I cannot find it. I thought it would be easy. It was the first time I had ever heard the phrase “muffin top” and it spoke to me at the time because I had hated mine since like 9th grade, which was probably when I hit like 115 lbs! (That is so ridiculous!!!) At the time I read your post, I was breast-feeding (140-145), so I didn’t care, but now I am at my right and normal ‘American’ weight (121-125) and still have mine, so I am embracing it. To me, having a flat stomach is like having a very clean house–good to have some dirty dishes and dirty windows (ANOTHER paraphrase of a Heather quote that changed my life for the better.) Something about loving yourself, being comfortable with where you are and content with your imperfections, and how that makes you more lovable to other people and frees you up to focus on the needs of others and the beautiful world around us! It probably all goes back to grace :)

  3. It’s fun, seeing it all on paper, isn’t it? I find it extremely satisfying to scribble all over my printed pages, even when I’m writing things like, “WTF???” because I have no idea what the paragraph has to do with anything.

    • Ahaha! I literally laughed out loud. Yes, amazingly satisfying, especially when all marked up. I think I’m actually going to be sort of sorry when the manuscript is clean and tidy after my fiftieth draft. It won’t feel like it’s mine any more. I’m also going to start writing “WTF???” profusely on my pages in the meantime. Because that is just the right thing to do.

    • P.S. Thank you. My views hit 50 today at around 3pm, which matched my previous high number of views. I thought, woo-hoo, it’s going to be a record-breaking day.

      And then nobody came by for almost seven hours. Nobody. Seven hours.

      Then you came along. Which made today a record-breaking day. There should be an award or a give-away or something. Free cyber high-five? There ya go. Congrats!

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