What You Always Cut


So yesterday I was talking to my MIT colleague Jane about–you guessed it–writing! I know you were expecting anything else from me, to wit:

  • My plan to join S.H.I.E.L.D. so I can learn to be a badass from Agent Melinda May
  • My cat, Musashi’s, plan to learn to play pingpong soccer like Pele
  • Our joint plan for world domination

It’s true, I have many plans. But mostly when I am not thinking about such things I am thinking about writing. One of the things I thought about quite a lot a while back was how annoying it is especially when I am writing nonfiction (insert loud sucking noise here), it always seems that there is a huge chunk that I end up having to cut before the end. Many writers I have worked with at MIT also experience this and they always want to know how to avoid what appears to be the wasted time of writing and then cutting this stuff.

After a great deal of soul searching, cuz yeah, I apparently write at least in part with my soul, don’t know what that’s about, I finally realized that this part of the process, though it sucks in lo these many ways, is probably unavoidable. But then I think about my mom’s pea soup. See, she always puts a hambone in as it’s cooking. It adds a meaty, smoky flavor that I have never been able to replicate when I have made vegetarian pea soup. But when she serves the soup, she takes the hambone out. I figure that those annoying bits in the writing are like the hambone: they get you, the writer, to the ideas you need to keep but then no longer serve your readers and have to get cut.


That’s my two cents, anyway.

6 comments on “What You Always Cut

  1. robert okaji says:

    You mean it isn’t simply a matter of using just the good words?


  2. Widdershins says:

    Ever heard of a product called ‘liquid smoke’? it puts the ‘smoky’ in dishes without the meat.


  3. I recently heard about that, but I haven’t made pea soup since then.


  4. Loved this post!! Perfect metaphor…and all due respect to the Widdershins, but to Charissa Grace using liquid smoke in cooking is like writing a bunch of short lines with no punctuation and no capitalization and then calling it a poem…cus lookie!!

    Liked by 1 person

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