Monday, April 27, 2009

How Trimming Hedges is Like Revising

So my mom came to town with my step-father on Saturday which was awesome.  We went to lunch and then went to Lowes whereupon my mom and I spent a wonderful time planning a vegetable garden and wandering the aisles (JP and step-father of course checked out wildly expensive grills and day-dreamed).

When we got home, we went to work on the yard.  In the few years we've lived in our house, JP and I haven't done a lot of hedge trimming and it's started to show.  Thankfully, our yard doesn't require a ton of upkeep, but a few of the foundation plants are in danger of taking over.  Especially after the late spring wet snow we had weighed a lot of them down.

So my mom and I started to attack the biggest offender -- this huge monstrosity of a thing blocking our kitchen windows.  Mom worked the sides, trimming for shape and I attacked the top.  I was pulling down huge chunks of this bush -- it just needs a major overhaul.  And then I go to pull out a big pice I'd cut and my stomach sunk.

There was a birds nest in it.  And it had three tiny newborns.  UGH.  So we waved JP (who worked as a vet tech for several years) over and he was able to wedge the branch back into the bush and I've been watching the mama bird come and go ever since (as I type this she flits over to a nearby tree to sit watch).  But that also meant the end of pruning for a while lest any other bushes be someone else's home (I know there's another nest in the camellia).

As I sit here and stare out at this pathetically misshapen bush, it makes me think about revising.  Because I kind of feel like my book looks like that shrub right now.  My editor, like my mom, has given me line edits to shape the edges.  But I'm still not convinced about the overall book and I know words (lots of them) need cutting.  I've whacked off parts, perhaps with a little too much glee and not enough caution, endangering darlings that need to be carefully layered back in.

It's looking ugly and sometimes impossible and overwhelming.  And I feel like that's the time to step back, get a wider view of it all and look at the thing from different angles.  I'm pulling out my toolbox and I'm getting to work.  Oh, and the bush outside?  All trimming is on hold until the baby birds have left home.  Sorry neighbors!


Patrick Alan said...

Oohh... Scary analogy.

I suspect my skills at revising and trimming are very similar.

That's really scary to me. You should see how I trim things. The good thing is I am in Florida and everything grows like weeds.

My writing might be similar. Sure, I can whack a chunk out and write something completely new, but fix something... Well, I am pretty sure that is impossible.

David Kazzie said...

Usually if I cut something out, it's more analagous to black mold. Not cute little birds.