Every January, after I’ve put away the Christmas decorations, I’m seized by a strong desire to clean house, and I don’t just mean scrubbing the floors and vacuuming under the beds. I mean turning out closets, emptying shelves and tossing the old, broken, worn and useless stuff I’ve collected over the years. At one time of my life I moved every year. In those days, I had no clutter! But, I’ve lived in my current house for more than thirty years and “stuff” accumulates. This urge to clean house is rare and must be acted upon immediately or it crawls off into a corner for another twelve months and hides under the piles of old magazines. However, when I do complete a proper clean out I feel great, full of energy and purpose, ready to tackle something new.
As a writer, it strikes me that decluttering has a place in my process as well. The first (really ugly) draft is full of verb phrases, redundant adjectives and meandering plot lines. All of which seemed essential at the time. Just like that broken clock I thought could be fixed rather than thrown out. But now that I’m at full-on declutter, I’ll take a sharp blue pencil to my verbiage too.
Here’s an example from my WIP:
“Come on, Bonaparte!” Marie Dubois rubbed her gloved hands together while she waited for the short-legged mutt to do his business. She glanced at her watch
and felt Her heart thudded against her ribs. She had exactly seven minutes to get to work. If the dog didn’t perform soon, delayed her, she’d be late for work — again! Not that she blamed She didn’t blame Bonaparte. The poor thing had been After being stuck inside for hours, he needed exercise. But not now! “Come on, Bonaparte!” she tugged on his leash. “I can’t be late today, of all days. The new boss is expected. would still be there if she hadn’t used the key stored under a stone owl on Mme Ethier’s front step to pen the door and rescue him.”
Well, it’s a start and I feel better already. What about you? Care to put on your editor’s cap and have a go at my prose? Don’t be shy. I won’t be insulted — but I reserve the right to ignore your suggestions.