This morning I am enjoying a cup of mountain man coffee - which is coffee grounds boiled in a pot, the result of life without a coffee maker - and killing my darlings. When I first heard this treasure of writing advice years ago, I thought I could never do it, but I'm discovering that the more little darlings I crush for the benefit of the overall story, the easier it is to do, and now I wonder if I may fall into a weed-pulling frenzy that will uproot my entire flower bed.
I'll get back to that in a second, but first let me note that this particular darling isn't dying well. Rather than killing it outright, I am suffocating the life out of it by reworking it into a similar scene, which is a shame since the original one stands so well on its own. The original was inspired; the revision a labor of necessity. It's like trying to reshape a candle after the wick is already lit. What can a writer do? The original doesn't work overall... it doesn't work and must be killed. Ah well. I guess I'll just file it away in my "Drafts" and read it to myself for jollies years down the road.
Like I said, often times I fear that my massive revisions are ripping out the guts of my story, this creature I'm crafting. It's so easy to keep the "pretty" stuff and axe anything challenging, or weird, or personal, especially when I envision it being read by another person. But if I keep that up, I'm going to end up with a skin, a decorative wall hanging, that will look oh so very nice of the surface but never be able to move on its own. No, rather give me a skinned and living story with no decoration, a Catcher in the Rye, an Archy and Mehitabel. It might not catch instant appeal, but it will survive.