Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pruning Your Novel

Have you ever kept your Christmas tree up long after Christmas music is off the airwaves and the wrapping paper is put away? I have. As long as the needles aren't littering my wood floors and the tree is thriving, I find it very difficult to throw away a perfectly good tree. I've had the same feelings about heavy editing, it's tough, but necessary.

Every Christmas I choose a live tree and fresh wreaths and garlands to decorate the exterior and interior of my house. The evergreen smells and the joy that fresh trees and greenery offer me are worth the trouble and money. Once, I kept my tree and decorations up until March because I couldn't bear tossing them into the back of the trash truck. It happened again this year with the garlands of greenery along my front fence and the fresh wreath my friend gave me for Christmas - the one on the antique chair I placed on my front porch. Correction, had. I finally threw the wreath away yesterday. I hated doing that and was hoping to add little Easter eggs to it, but it was too dry and brittle.

I had the same experience with cutting out certain scenes and chapters in my first novel. I had put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into those scenes and chapters. I loved them, but ultimately, I had to face the fact that they did nothing for the novel I was working on. Pruning the novel felt like cutting away pieces of me!  It was hard to do, but I understood why it had to be done. I could use those chapters and scenes in another book.

This coming March, I have to prune the ancient Concord grapevine on my patio that offers me precious shade in spring and summer, not to mention bushels and bushels of wonderful grapes through October. I bought this old house two years ago and couldn't bear the thought of pruning, fearful that I'd kill it in the process of  pruning!

The first summer, I had more grapes than I could eat and last summer, the harvest was great, but not as bountiful as the previous year. I could tell.  My friend insisted that this March was pruning time - a heavy, no holds barred pruning. That terrifies me. What if I kill it? What if the vines never grow back? I know it has to be done, but I'm scared.

It was then that I realized that there would be new growth on that old grapevine and more grapes.  I also realized that there would be another book and another book after that with heavy editing.  The three things I love, Christmas, gardening, and writing would continue and thrive with careful attention, love and pruning.

Pruning is necessary for new growth and a beautiful harvest.

Peace and love,


  1. I always keep my Christmas tree up way past the holiday season. There's something so magical about the "glow" of the lights, that I just can't part with it.

    I guess that goes with all things in life, huh? There's a glow surrounding everything we do, we just need to find those moments that truly sparkle!

  2. I always have difficulty cutting scenes from my works-in-progress! Sometimes the writing is just so darn good but when I am honest with myself, I can see that it doesn't do anything to propell the story forward and needs to be removed. I try to save deleted scenes somewhere in case I want to tweak and use them in a subsequent novel :)

    1. Hi Meri! It's tough, but I already need to do that in my first three chapters...need to flesh out to get to the good stuff sooner :) I agree, if it doesn't propel the story forward, cut and save! Good to hear from you, girlfriend! Hope you are well! xx

  3. Hi Ash! I love the lights, too :) I ended up putting lights on my staircase to keep the glow going! Here's to sparkly moments in life! Well said :) You have only a few days to go, don't ya?! I'm excited for you! xx