Cutting

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.