Monday, January 28, 2013

Editing Myself

The manuscript I've been working on (my own) got really bloated somewhere in the middle of NaNoWriMo. I love NaNo, love the exuberance of cranking out 2000 words a day and not worry a bit about my inner editor. My gosh I wandered all over the place with side stores, character studies, odd endings and stranger beginnings.

Today I cut 20,000 words out. Some of those are really great words and turns-of-phrase. But off they go into my drawer of writing that doesn't fit anywhere. Did I say drawer? I meant drawers. Nay, banker's boxes full of writing that doesn't fit anywhere.

Some of it is so old that I cringe when I re-read it. For instance, the generations-spanning novel I tried to write when I was 23: I hadn't spanned a generation myself and I was arrogant enough to think I could write meaningfully about people growing old. Oh, and not from my 23-year-old perspective -- this is what I think it'll be like. No, I knew what it would be like. (Wow, was I ever wrong.)

But some of it is funny -- when I managed to get over being pretentious and self-consciously writing.

I have an unintentionally a hilarious journal I kept while trying to deliver a five-hundred-pound, eight harness loom for a friend. The trip required dismantling the loom, carrying it down four slights of stairs, and loading it into my nine-passenger station wagon. One flat tire and a ferry trip later we unloaded the loom and carried it piece by piece a quarter mile across a muddy field to its new home.  We ate pizza.

And we decided to drive across Canada. No passports needed in those days, just a driver's licence. I left one passenger in Vancouver, another in Glacier and a third in Toronto. I picked up a couple of passengers from the University of Toronto, dropped them in Ottawa and picked up three more from the University of Ottawa and drove one person all the way to PEI -- Prince Edward Island.

I'd never read Anne of Green Gables -- actually, I still haven't. But part of PEI were like an Anne of Green Gable theme park. (I wrote the theme park bit in my journal.)

Then I drove  back; west to Toronto and south to Chicago. I had a itch to drive Route 66, and in 1976 you could still just about do it. I kept on giving rides to various folks -- about thirty total. I'd left Olympia, Washington with twenty bucks and a gas credit card; I came back three months later with twenty bucks and only fifty dollars charged to the card. My passengers had paid for most of the gas; we were having a gas crisis, gas was sixty cents a gallon.

Wonder if I could do it now?

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