Edits

Tomato jungle

Tomato jungle

I did it again – planted 27 tomatoes for three people. It seemed like a good idea back in January. I chose six heirloom varieties in all colors from red to green to gold, and knew I needed every last one.

But when August comes, the tomato vines fall on the peppers and kill them. The tomatoes themselves fall to the ground and rot. There’s no time to make sauce. Sam’s acid stomach starts to protest.

And I have to stand the plants up, cut them back, and make sense of them.

I love the superabundance, the privilege of going through and pruning after the fact. Growing too much, then choosing the very best. But pruning has to be part of the process or everything will die.

I’m getting ready to do the same thing with my book. Again. Editing it down to what really matters.

Making cuts to a project you’ve been with this long is like sawing off your own arm with a butter knife. But experience tells me it works. Sentences shed their adverbs. Scenes shed their dead weight. The story emerges from the thicket, the statue from the marble.

It’s impossible to have too many tomatoes, or books, or cats. But litter, and extra words, and vines that overrun the garden killing everything are a different story.

After editing, two of my favorites: mortgage lifter and green zebra.

After editing, two of my favorites: mortgage lifter and green zebra.