Image of a bonsai tree

The Pain of Pruning

Some writers crank out thousands of words a day and complete their stories from start to finish with very few surprises along the way. There is editing to be done, but the first draft has everything it needs to survive.

Other writers claim that their stories are told to them by their characters. They are merely the vessels through which the story makes its way into the world. They don’t decide what their characters do, the characters do.

I envy those writers. My experience is very different. For me, writing is like planting a seed.  A tiny, useless seed. It may sprout into something beautiful one day, but only if I devote an enormous amount of time and care to it. Just like a plant, unfortunately, growth is a slow process. It spreads its leaves and pages in fits and stages. If I keep at it, perhaps one day it will grow into something someone wouldn’t mind having in their home. Like a bonsai tree.

Growing a bonsai tree is not a kind hobby, however. You have to be patient, which is difficult in its own right. The worst part, though, are the necessary sacrifices.  You must clip away hard-grown branches for the health of the tree and its overall aesthetic. It seems wrong to cut off something you’ve worked so hard to nurture.

Then, when you’re certain you have a plan, the trunk twists, and you realize that you have to adjust your strategy if you want the tree to keep growing. This means cutting more branches and encouraging others, all the while hoping your endless futzing won’t kill the thing altogether.

I started this idea as a 3,000-word short story. When it crept up to 8,000 in edits, I realized I was writing a novella. Now I’m over 13,000 words, and I have accepted that this will be a novel.  There are a lot of branches to sprout to get to 80,000 words. To increase the challenge, I’ve got to snip off a few I’ve already grown.

Are there fertilizers for writers?

Article by Phoebe Knight | Image Attribution: william.neuheisel

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail