Monday, June 22, 2009


I posted an update to my status on facebook that I'd managed to farm out three of my four children (and the one that stayed home is pretty danged independent) and so I had 3 days to write and clean. My super-cool facebook friends all told me forget the cleaning and go write!

But I didn't want to write, and you wanna know why?

Cause I just cut 12,349 words! That's why.

Seeing as how I'm an accountant these days I thought I'd run the numbers--35.4% of what I had written to date is now in my cuts folder. That leaves me with 22, 543 which is only 25% of my goal of 90,000 words.

See, the heartache comes from the fact that I knew what I'd written wasn't really working, which is one reason why I'd been avoiding the writing. But when I'm down 3 kids and a husband, and before the husband leaves I ask that husband for a blessing so I can use my time well; I have to write. And unfortunately for me, HAVING to write, means I HAD to cut. And it hurts, damnit.

I was supposed to have this book done by August 1st. It's very hard to adjust that deadline in my mind without feeling as though I'm failing my publisher and my readers and myself. But it was my own deadline and, ironically, I know that not cutting it means I can't move forward, because I try too hard to make what doesn't work, work and that is almost equally discouraging. Ya know?

Kinda like yesturday. The kids are gone, and I know it's the Sabbath and all, but I started to clean my daughter's room. I really only wanted to confirmation that yes, the closet was still there. Within 2 hours I had 2 full size garbage sacks (full of polly pocket clothes and barbie shoes I feel no guilt over discarding) in my garbage can, a bag of clothes for her cousin and 2 boxes and 2 bags of stuff for DI. She has a month to remember specific items in the DI stuff that I will then return to her, but after a month, if she can't remember it, it's gone. It was extreme, yes, and I should have waited until today, but it was also impossible for me to clean without CUTTING. Otherwise the room would never have been clean--there was too much stuff.

And cutting the 12,349 had to be done as well. I know it did, but it's still hard to see my page count dwindle.

I'm getting my hair cut on Thursday. It's time. I love it long, but then there are times I just don't. My ends are thin, it sticks to me when I'm working outside and I just need a little style--so I'm going under the knife. It won't be fun, and I might just cry, and yet I know it's a good thing and feel a glimmer of excitement at the idea of change!

I need to feel that same glimmer of excitement about cutting my story--because I cut it, that means I can have a healthier head of words, right? And it means that I won't have junk spilling through the doorway, right? And this sick feeling in my stomach will go away, right?

Oh, I really, really hope so.


C. Michelle Jefferies said...

I feel your pain. I moved two chapters from the middle of my book to the begining which meant I had to get rid of chapter #2. I lost 3,000 words. Then I cut another thousand by making contractions, and taking out the word "that". All of the sudden my 76,000 word MS was at 72,000. But I know that losing those words made my MS better. Cutting forces us to write better material. Changing our lives every once and a while is good for us even if its not good for our word count.

Luisa Perkins said...

I hate cutting words even more than I hate cleaning out closets! But it's often so very worth it.

Good luck using your time well! I'm cheering you on.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear you have a "cut" folder. That's my saving grace. If I couldn't at least keep my murdered darlings, I think I'd have a hard time moving on.

Sad, but true, your "hair" will be healthier for it. But, if I was in your shoes, I'd know that I'd look hot afterword!!

ali cross said...

Well, I am just so dang proud of you Josi!

Cutting away the garbage is the only true way to find the beauty ... that's true with everything in life, don't you think?

I hope you're busy, busy, busy today writing glorious words to replace all those yucky ones.

Kristina P. said...

WOw, that's a lot of words. But I'm sure that it's all for the best.

Annette Lyon said...

Ugh. I feel sick for you. But you've been through this before and come out the other end.

Not only that, but you know that physically cleaning a room often cleans up the brain so you can move forward on a book.

Crossing fingers that you daughter's room did the trick!

Cheri Chesley said...

Words to live by. Sometimes we have to trim, or cut, or chop, to get a better final result. You're doing great!

Melanie Jacobson said...

I'm at 90,000 words on my WIP right now. I'm betting it won't wrap up for another 10,000. And I know I'm going to have to go at it first with a machete to get it down to manageable length and then with a scalpel so it's all svelte, but I DON'T WANT TO DO IT. It's so aggravating. I only reread what I wrote the day before and other than the first five chapters, I don't really know what I'm dealing with in the rest of the manuscript. It sounds fine on a day by day basis. I hope when I go back to reread it, the cuts are obvious since it's been so long since I've seen parts of it.

I feel you, though. I'm putting it off as long as possible, which so far has managed to help me NOT AT ALL.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm sorry! It's never any fun cutting anything out of your manuscript. I don't know a lot yet, since I am only an aspiring writer, but I know how it feels to cut things you really love. Go eat some chocolate, or ice cream, and get back to writing! I am reading Lemon Tart right now, and it is fantastic! Hugs!:)

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Oh, sweet friend. My sympathies. I HATE, HATE cutting. Putting the words there in the first place is such a big deal for me.

Well, good for you! And there's nothing better than making big DI bags full of crap. Also, I can't wait to see the hair!

I'm going to write my quota tonight if it kills me. ;-)

Grandma 'D' said...

Love your blog!!! I don't know a thing about writing or cutting words...but I know a lot about cutting clutter and my hair. I have to say I love doing them both. Kind of a renewing process. Don't want to put the pressure on...but I am so looking forward to ENglish TRifle. You go girl!!

Charlie Moore said...

90,000 words, huh. I didn't know there was such a beast. Sometime I may have to try that. My current WIP is at 46,000+ words and still has a fair amount to be told. But my guess is 70,000 to maybe 75,000 if I'm lucky. My problem is when I see a logical conclusion I want to get in there and wrap things up.

Good luck, Josi. I haven't read Josi Kilpack yet, but I intend to do so soon.


Julie Wright said...

cutting bites :) I don't envy your word cuts but if it makes you feel any better. it's the reason I am only a third of the way through TDMSBM. All that cutting really got me down. My favorite lines and favorite moments. So sad. Eat a sugarfree chessecake. Have one for me too.

Stephanie Black said...

Josi, good luck! Being willing to cut out material that isn't working is one of the marks of a stellar writer (like you!).

By the way, I LOVE the covers on Lemon Tart and English Trifle.

amberargyle said...

I've just decided to introduce a major plot twist, which will require me to rewrite the whole dang book. It will be better for it, but it'll be a lot of work.

Selwyn said...

At least you like your word hairdresser!

Hopefully it will be like getting a good, new haircut. You see it the first couple of times and think "Geez, what did I DO!?! What was I thinking?" but then you wake up the next morning and see it and think "That looks pretty good!" Next thing you know it's added all sorts of benefits and goodness to your life, and you have a jaunty sway to your walk.

Keeping your cut folder is good too, just in case you wake up screaming =)

Melissa Cunningham said...

Wow, I feel for you. I do know that clean room feeling and how good it is to throw away all the fluff.

I'm in the same place with the book I'm working on. I find myself avoiding! lol

Anonymous said...

You've inspired me.

As a matter of fact I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow, for the first time since it fell out when I had cancer four years ago. (Trims yes, not cut) I haven't been able to bring myself to do it and it needs cutting badly, even more than my chapter five. :)

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I have a cut folder as well. It doesn't entirely numb the pain, but it eases it somewhat.

I'm proud of you. Seriously.