The one hard lesson in a writer’s life is knowing that one day you’ll have to kill your babies –and of course by “babies” I mean the wonderful creative works you spend most of your time crafting. A writer spends a huge chunk of time working on their projects, and throughout that time we connect and fall in love with our characters, evocative imageries and plot twists. Our stories become a part of us until that dreadful day when we hand it over to an editor. Our perfect piece is ripped apart before our very eyes, and there’s nothing we can do to save them…or is there?
All manuscripts must go through an editing process. What looks like perfection to our biased eyes, may very well look like a mass of confusion to a first reader. The reality is that our baby will change in the hands of another person, someone we trust to transform our work into its best presentation. When you’ve poured all your energy into creating and bonding with your work, it can feel like someone is ripping your heart out when you have to change it. We are too close to our own work to see its flaws, and so we throw tantrums, fighting to keep all the decorative details we think makes our piece seamless – but the editor knows best how to polish it and make it dazzle.
However, you can always salvage the scraps you love; there is always the possibility that they will thrive in another project. In this way, you can keep alive the words, the phrases, even the chapter of something you spent so much time cultivating. Perhaps that part of your baby will live again in a new story and survive. I always keep the things I cut in the hopes that they will find a new home in the future. And so far, I have not been disappointed.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.