Of Band-aids and Axes...

Like with every job, every hobby or every task you will ever perform in life, writing asks a great deal of patience and persistence. To write, you must be willing to fail. To fail, you must be willing to learn...

It takes talent to tell a story. And with that, I mean to truly tell a story. Everybody is capable of putting words together. Everybody is capable of coming up with the foundation of a story. But to turn these basics into a cohesive narrtative takes talent. So, what does it mean if you have found that talent? Well, let me tell you what it doesn't mean first. It doesn't mean that everything you'll ever write is good. It also doesn't mean that your first drafts will be perfect. No first draft is ever pefect, and that knowledge -that acceptence of failure, is -for me- the most important part of that talent.

As a writer, it is important to look at your story and point out what doesn't work. This means that you must read your story, over and over again. It means that you must mark sentences, paragraphs -entire chapters even, and ask yourself the following: can I fix this with a band-aid? Or do I need an axe? And trust me when I say that this question is never easily answered. Sometimes you start with a band-aid... tweaking your scene, changing words, or deleting a sentence here and there. But then you slowly come to realize that your so-called band-aid is not going to fix the problem. The easiest thing to do is to deny that there is a problem. We all do this! We look at our story and say: "Let's leave this for the reader to make something of it." Or: "Someone might actually interpret something in this. Let's leave it the way it is." But if you are truly being honest, and if you are truly tapping into that rare talent that has driven you to write down the story you have written thus far, a voice inside your mind should already have been speaking to you: "Grab that axe and chop it!"

Sometimes, you owe it to your story to 'grab the axe' and delete what you have written. The best choice you can make is to start over, albeit a new paragraph or a new chapter. But this is hard, I get that. Trust me, I understand like no other. It takes courage to delete your hard work. It feels like amputating an arm or a leg, knowing that it was functioning 'alright'. But alright isn't good enough. Alright is not going to get your work published. The thing is though, this arm -this leg, will regrow. An ever better arm/leg will take its place. And this should be the balancing force behind your fear. Scrape that courage together, grab the axe and make the cut (and it doesn't matter if you save 10+ copies of the old work, just in case). For only then, your story will grow -you will grow, and your writing will get better.