I was listening to a podcast the other day from one of my favorite online mentors, Joanna Penn. She the is publisher of The Creative Penn, a terrific resource for authors, writers, anyone in the publishing industry.
Joanna and her guest were engaged in stimulating conversation about the creative process and importance of efficiency. They both in unison brought up a Buddhist phrase in describing the fallacies of writers (excuse me as I’m not familiar chapter and verse with the Buddha sutra so I’m paraphrasing):
“We must learn to leave our little darlings by the side of the road”
They both chuckled afterwards as if they just revealed a private inside joke (which is one way you can determine a good podcast…by how well the podcasters execute the secret handshake:) For anyone who has written long form, we understood the punch line…
Learn to let go of your words.
It can be hard, like a golfer switching out a set of clubs when he or she knows that hybrid three-wood made that par 5 eagle putt possible. Or a deep sea diver reticent about using new scuba gear.
I saw a four-eyed clam through that mask!
Whatever the hobby/vocation, in order to move forward, you must let go of those images. As a writer, we want to hold onto our sentences and graphs as if they are sand castles, hoping the tide doesn’t roll in and wash them away while we sleep. After all, we labored over them, polished them so the finished product was more than just adequate.
That beautiful sentence you read? That was hard labor dammit!!!!
But as Buddha also said, “I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”
I think what the Master of Zen was trying to tell us is that writers need editors.
It only took me 300 words to figure that out..