To write, you must edit. And to edit, you must learn to detach. You must learn to detach from that beautiful, elegant, witty, sardonic, and just plain brilliant turn of phrase that unfortunately detracts from the whole of the piece. Oh but how it hurts to delete our best work! If only there were a way to save it?
A superb writing instructor from West Virginia (whose name unfortunately escapes me) offers the perfect solution to the difficult parting of writer with word. It’s called “the Orphanage.”
“The Orphanage” is the home for all of those genius word compositions that have nowhere else to go. When the flash of brilliance gets booted from its place on the page it’s not left to fend for itself on the mean streets of a cold, forgetful mind. Instead, it gets to live comfortably with all the other orphans, enjoying 3 squares a day, love, remembrance, and the hope that, it too, will one day find a permanent home. And if it doesn’t, it’s still in great company. Plus there’s always the chance that after you become a famous author and die, some mournful soul will scour through your journals, find the Orphanage, and you’ll be quoted for all eternity. The essays, poems, and novels will fade, but those poor orphans will live on on coffee mugs, publisher’s weekly compendiums, and dorm posters.
Painters aren’t as fortunate. The heartbreakingly beautiful stroke of alizarin crimson swimming across the buttercream sky doesn’t have anywhere else to go. In painting, it’s do or die.
So my fellow writer, despair not. Build yourself an orphanage with bright beautiful walls and clean comfy beds. Be it a computer file, a series of voice memos, a notebook or a stack of napkins, make it a place of love. Nurture your brilliance, take care of your orphaned children. Who knows what illustrious lives they may lead!