Editing, by Wendy DeRaud

Every time I go to work in my garden, I start writing another blog in my head.

Incessant, pervasive, all-encompassing, these were the words that came to mind as I was back at it, tearing out the rest of the ivy that had invaded my beds and had choked out my trees.

Just a week after I had uprooted it from around the orange tree, the leaves had started sprouting again.



This proves how important it was that I did all that hard work, so I wanted to continue the process.

As I prune my garden, so I play with my words, and this time, I wrote 3 whole pages. As I edit, I am forced to hold them lightly; I'm learning to be unafraid to yank them out if they don't fit, if they are hindering what I really want to say.


“The most important lesson in the writing trade is that any manuscript is improved if you cut away the fat.”    Robert Heinlein (1907-1988)

A ground cover like ivy probably started off as a tiny, innocent little plant, easily doing its job. Then it started to take control, assuming itself, appropriating into areas it wasn't meant to inhabit.

Ivy isn't an evil plant, but like the wisteria at my old house, it symbolized a totalitarian dictator, as it moved in and took over my yard with its long flower-less vines, entrenching themselves into my garden like an unwanted and unnecessary paragraph. It couldn't even bloom anymore, that's how forgetful it was of its true purpose, of blooming beautiful flowers.

When we prune, we can make space, open up possibilities for a plant's true purpose. If we cut out a line or two, or an unnecessary word in a sentence, then we can see more clearly and can understand the true intent of what we really wanted to say.

Something happens internally when I do something externally with my body. My thoughts, words, neurological nerve endings, are all affected, and that kind of activity inspires my writing.

That's why pruning inspired me to edit.

It I'm not in the mood to edit, I can sometimes feel fragile, needy, too sensitive and afraid to lose a paragraph or even a little word, believing if I delete something, I'll be left with nothing. If I'm writing on a day like that, I can become stuck and unable to cut back any of my words because they're suddenly too precious to me, too important.

I need to have my eyes opened so I can see them for what they are, just words, and maybe pure fluff and filler, if I'm honest. Then I need to get my sheers out and ruthlessly cut, stuffing those words into plastic bags and taking them out to the trash.

Editing is a necessary task, like pruning Ivy. It is like confession, letting go of a secret fault, admitting we talk too much or gossip, that we're puffed up and showing off too many pretty words. We have to cut it out or start over because it can hurt us by robbing us of our fruit, or like the orange tree, lose all of our leaves.


As we head into a fruitful season, it might not be as fruitful as I want if I'm not brave enough to edit myself. Yes, tomorrow is another day, and if you can't do it today, by all means, wait till tomorrow. But don't wait too long to edit. I've learned that when I prune, in one week, new leaves can grow where once there were none.



Now I have 1 page where there once were 3. Where did all those words go, which I once held so dear? I guess I've learned that, like all good thoughts and ideas, if they're important and beautiful enough to remember, they'll come back to me, like a green shoot on a lonely stem.