Tuesday, May 12, 2009


To Nick: Happy birthday, love! You are the best husband a girl could ask for. Thanks for the relentless support and encouragement you give as I chase my crazy dreams.

Now, on to the post.

When I first started writing, I thought my stories were carved in stone. Once I wrote it down, it couldn't change. Characters said what they said. Plot unfolded how it unfolded. Setting was what it was. If I tried to alter it in any way, the stone would crumble or become something different from what I intended. Like refining the rock with tools, I could clean up awkward language and punctuation, but that was the extent of change I could envision without destroying my sculpture.

I was wrong.

Turns out what I thought was stone is actually gold—precious, shiny, and most importantly malleable. As I have grown as a writer, I've learned that stories can withstand much more change than brittle stone. Pieces can be remelted and recast. They can stretch and shrink. They can be moved around or reattached. And through it all—your golden story doesn't lose any of its value. In fact, usually it becomes more beautiful than the initial design.

Sure, it's not easy to melt and remold gold. But it's doable. Sometimes I mourn the loss of my favorite pretty pieces, but I'm also happy with the new creations I make. After a while, I can't believe I ever liked the old parts to begin with. The new ones fit better, are more elegant, or just plain make sense.

I'm not afraid to remold my writing anymore. The end result is something more incredible than I ever imagined it could be.


  1. Spoken like a true artist.

    Happy birthday to Nick.

    May is a great month for producing wonderful Hubbies!

    (- just a couple of weeks to my Hubby's too)

  2. /wink, or maybe /blink, not sure which one it is!


  3. Amen, sister.

    I think malleability is truly the mark of a professional.

  4. Beautiful analogy. I totally agree, though I don't think I ever really noticed it consciously. You're right, a story can withstand some dramatic changes and still miraculously hold together somehow. Writing is still hard, but this stability at least makes it possible!

  5. This is a great analogy. You are spot on with this one. I used to think the same way, but I've come to realize that as things change they can be so much better than the original.

  6. Awesome analogy! I remember this conversation at the park. It's inspired me to change a lot of things, so thank you!

    Happy birthday to your hubby!

  7. *applauds* You're absolutely right!!

  8. Bouncing a recent post on Lit Soup, I think that's one of the biggest changes in my writing since my teenage years.

    There have been some quality improvements, I am sure (I hope!) and some increase life experience to add depth. More than anything, though, I have learned to love revision.

    I remember literally yelling at erstwhile editors when I was a teen, "But that's not what happened!"

    Now I'm more apt to yell, "Please tell me if that's really what happened!"


  9. That certainly makes a lot of sense. What good advice!

  10. "If I tried to alter it in any way, the stone would crumble or become something different from what I intended."

    That's been exactly my problem with editing. I'm afraid if I change something too much, I'll break it.

    It's something I'm trying to get over, so thanks for this post. Hopefully one day I'll be forced to get over it, as you have been these past weeks :-)

  11. You're so right, the end product is always better. Enjoy your hubby's bday!

  12. Let's hear it for successful revisions! I've got my pompoms out.

  13. Wonderful analogy! And I'm sorry, I know you're probably overwhelmed with comments at this point and thinking, OMG doesn't she have a life? A boyfriend? A cute puppy to play with? And the answer (to all 3) is yes! I do. But I LOVE your blog. And your advice is so good. So... I'm sorry. For loving you!

  14. Wow, I'm really glad to have stumbled across this post (via Megan Payne, in her posts at http://writing.smeganpayne.com/3/post/2010/01/gifts-of-htryn.html). I'm about to start a fresh round of edits on my novel; thinking about it as gold, rather than stone, is great perspective. Thanks for the creative, oh-so-applicable analogy!

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