Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kill Your Darlings -- Slowly

As I contemplate Round 8 of editing Doleful Creatures, I realize there's yet another subplot in the book that has got to go. I can see clearly it's interfering with the story, not adding to it - yet I can see in my mind certain elements of it that can be repurposed.

So part of Revision 8 will include cutting this subplot.

The thing is, though, as I think about cutting  this subplot I realize it eliminates most of  Doleful Creatures' original plot.

Is that bad? Does that mean the original plot of the book is bad? Does it mean I've wasted a lot of time writing this book, since at Rev. 9, it's essentially a new book?

No. No. And no.

I'm killing my darlings. I'm just a,bit slower at it than most.

As I thought about it, I realized it all sounded familiar to me. Then it came: The allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, as found in Jacob Chapter 5.

To sum up: The lord of a vineyard of olive trees does a lot of fertilizing, digging, and grafting to preserve the roots of his olive trees, while at the same time working to ensure he gets good fruit for all his labors. He discovers at one point, however, that branches grafted into the roots of his favorite tree are producing bad fruit, and have to be culled in order to preserve the roots and to save the good fruit the tree once bore.

And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard and the servant went down into the vineyard; and they came to the tree whose natural branches had been broken off, and the wild branches had been grafted in; and behold all sorts of fruit did cumber the tree. 

And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard did taste of the fruit, every sort according to its number. And the Lord of the vineyard said: Behold, this long time have we nourished this tree, and I have laid up unto myself against the season much fruit.
But behold, this time it hath brought forth much fruit, and there is none of it which is good. And behold, there are all kinds of bad fruit; and it profiteth me nothing, notwithstanding all our labor; and now it grieveth me that I should lose this tree.

And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: What shall we do unto the tree, that I may preserve again good fruit thereof unto mine own self?

And the servant said unto his master: Behold, because thou didst graft in the branches of the wild olive tree they have nourished the roots, that they are alive and they have not perished; wherefore thou beholdest that they are yet good.
And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: The tree profiteth me nothing, and the roots thereof profit me nothing so long as it shall bring forth evil fruit.

Nevertheless, I know that the roots are good, and for mine own purpose I have preserved them; and because of their much strength they have hitherto brought forth, from the wild branches, good fruit.

But behold, the wild branches have grown and have overrun the roots thereof; and because that the wild branches have overcome the roots thereof it hath brought forth much evil fruit; and because that it hath brought forth so much evil fruit thou beholdest that it beginneth to perish; and it will soon become ripened, that it may be cast into the fire, except we should do something for it to preserve it.

That's what editing is: Removing the bad from the good, transplanting in the good, and sometimes culling what's been transplanted because it's threatening to overpower the roots. And sometimes the removal is painful because you remember the good fruit the roots or the branches once produced, and you fear that the tree itself is no good and should be dug up and cast into the fire. But there's always something that keeps you going back, remembering that good fruit, and thinking, "There's still something I can do with this tree to bring back that good fruit."

Revision 8 will continue that pruning, and I'm excited for it.

No comments: