|Source: Wikimedia Commons|
"Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings."
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
~~~You've slaved over your manuscript. You love every word. It's like a precious infant that you've given birth to after years of hard work and attention. You've spent lunch hours, and evening TV watching time creating a masterpiece.
And now your critique group wants to cut your favorite parts.
And it hurts.
That's okay. It's supposed to. When we first start out, as in any effort, it's painful. Athletes don't become gold medalists without pain. Great writers don't, either. I promise, as you gain more experience as a writer, as you keep writing and keep writing and keep writing, you're gonna write some unworthy stuff. If that weren't true we wouldn't need critique partners, agents, or editors. And because you're going to write unworthy stuff (and even experienced writers do), some of your darlings will end up slashed, rejected and murdered. Suck it up. It's good for you. You will learn from it.
The best advice I ever heard about "killing our darlings" is from Stephen King's book On Writing. He puts his manuscripts in a drawer for months before going back to them for edits. That way, he isn't as emotionally involved with them. And while that manuscript sits, he starts the next one.
When you start a new manuscript, it becomes your passion. That other manuscript, aging in the drawer, becomes just another project you want to get right. At least that's how it works for me.
Recently, I went back to a manuscript that I'd written and completed almost two years ago. I 'd been struggling with how to rewrite the first chapter. It simply wasn't right. So I put it away, got started on other projects, and got it out again last week. Within minutes I easily cut most of the first three chapters. I couldn't see how to do that before because I was too close to it. Now, it's just something that needs to get done, and hopefully, what I've changed will make it more worthy for someone to consider it.
When it comes to writing, we have to be willing to "murder our darlings." (However, don't forget to pray and ask God what to leave in and what to take out. That makes the decision even easier.)
The thing to remember about sitting manuscripts is that God's timing is perfect. He knows who is going to pick up your book/story on what exact day at what exact time. We have to rest in His perfect plan and time for releasing our words to those who need to hear them. Letting our manuscript age in the drawer could be part of God's plan for releasing it at the proper time and place. Never forget that God's purpose will prevail, no matter how many words you write.
What makes us think we can get ahead of God? Silly humans. Timing is up to God. When we write with that it mind, it makes the waiting easier.
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass...Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not..."
Psalm 37: 5&7a
Karla Akins is a pastor's wife, mother of five, grandma to five beautiful little girls and author of O Canada! Her Story and represented by Hartline Literary Agency. She lives in North Manchester with her husband, twin teenage boys with autism, and three rambunctious dogs. Her favorite color is purple, favorite hobby is book-hoarding, and favorite food group is cupcakes.