The packers come in two days to pack up our stuff for our move to the cow-tipping capital of the world – Burlington, Iowa – so I’ve dedicated this week to tossing stuff out. Today was tackling the fridge and freezer.
My freezer represents my good intentions. Those siu gau wrappers I bought several months ago represented my aspiration to become more proficient in the kitchen. I have a fabulous recipe for siu gau, and thought it’d be a hoot to surprise the hubs.
Well, make that I had a great recipe for siu gau. Last time I made it was about thirty years ago, so it’s possible it got lost. I’d spent about an hour online looking for a suitable replacement recipe, but gave up. Who am I kidding? Me and grease? Really? We do have two fire extinguishers, but I don’t think I could survive the humiliation.
Out they went.
The sausages were a sentimental favorite, and much harder to toss. The hubs bought them at this great little shop in the Strip District in downtown Pittsburgh that makes the best designer sausages. I don’t know why we never got around to making them. I suppose life just got in the way. We’ve stuffed in a lot of happy memories of The Strip and its eclectic shops and street food vendors.
Out they went. Sadly.
Same goes for the pasta. Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in The Strip has the best homemade pasta – in every flavor imaginable – and we bought all kinds. And didn’t finish them in time.
Out they went…with a tear.
Other stuff was much easier to toss. The frozen bananas weren’t an emotional dilemma. Neither was the half-full bag of peas.
I’ll miss the chocolate wine because, well, it’s chocolate and wine. Need I say more?
Out it went.
Letting go is what we do during the writing process. We have scenes we adore – they’re our “Strip District” goodies that are filled with love and gooey fabulosity. But as delicious as they are, they simply won’t survive the move to finished product because they may derail the plot or be completely irrelevant.
These freezer/fridge items only have specialness to us because they represent something from our heart…which is why it’s hard for us to let go and toss ’em out. It’s why black-hearted, soulless editors are your best friend. They don’t have the sweet memories of buying those marvelous Italian pastries while waltzing down the Strip District streets, stopping in at Rolands for a quick drinkie on the upstairs patio, where I’ve watched more than one person lose his drink overboard and land on someone’s parked car. Editors weren’t with you on your trip, so they will rip the guts out of anything that doesn’t support the plot.
Many of my authors have wept croc tears when I’ve red-lined a scene or three. “Really? THAT one? But I love that scene.” I can almost see the collective chin quiver and thoughts of hiring a hit team.
I’ll share here what I share with my authors. Ask yourself why that scene needs to be in the story. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best writing you’ve ever done, it has to make sense to the plot. If you take it out, will the story still stand and be just as rich? If you can justify that scene, then perhaps it needs to be tweaked in order to make it relevant.
During your editing process, there will be things that will be easy to let go, like butter. Can’t pack butter. Others, you’ll moan and groan, like my chocolate wine – because I’m cheap and hate to waste good choccie wine. The idea is to stand one or two degrees away from your story – where you can be the objective observer who can clinically agree that as much as you love a scene, it doesn’t belong in the book.
As for me, it’s back to the freezer. Frozen string beans? I hate string beans…what the hell was I thinking?