The pain of “killing your darlings”

In creative writing, to “kill your darlings” means to cut out some of the prose you’ve fallen in love with but ultimately does not serve the work. It’s something clever to you… maybe something that made you giggle when you wrote it or sounded particularly witty, but in the big picture is merely a distraction.

I bring this up because as I finished up my indexing and photo caption-writing for Connecticut Beer, to be published in May by The History Press, I found myself to be about 3,000 words over my limit. That’s a lot. With the 29 breweries I’m profiling, plus profiles of beer bars, and a history section, acknowledgements, etc., there are plenty of places to pluck. But now that I’m at my deadline, these are tough choices to make.

I’m not in love with every word I’ve written; indeed, some words that I wrote more than a year ago sound a little stale to me now, and I’m grateful for a chance to revise. In the big picture, I’d rather have to remove 3,000 words than scramble to add 3,000. It’s just a hurdle for which I was not prepared. I have to wait until tomorrow to do that, though. I’m beat.

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