I’ve discovered my weakness. Too many words.
I don’t mean the spoken kind. I mean the written kind.
One of the best things that ever happened to me occurred when I wanted to submit my work to a contest. I thought I’d written a pretty decent piece. Then I saw the word count.
Gulp. I needed to ditch a couple hundred words.
But my piece was already perfect. Really.
But I also wanted to enter that contest.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try to cut a few words. Surely there were some contractions I could create.
I dug through the whole piece, severing with a ruthless eye. Then I checked the word count.
Only ten less words? That couldn’t be right. I’d been so cruel with my hacking and slashing.
I checked the count again.
Okay. No error. Now what?
I took a deep breath and tried again. I don’t take kindly to quitting. This time I’d be brutal. Maybe there were some phrases I could shorten, or an explanation my readers could live without.
If I thought the first round of cuts was tough, this one was killer. All my beautiful words deleted away as if they meant nothing. As if they might actually have been unnecessary. And they were such pretty things.
At the end of the deed, I’d chopped all of forty.
I wrung my hands. What next? Whole sentences tossed into the trash?
I needed time to mourn. I read through the piece for flow, allowing myself to drink in the words without the pressure to morph into hatchet lady.
Well, then I felt stupid, because you know what? The piece was better.
I sighed and got in touch with my inner chain saw. By the end of the day, I’d made the cuts with a few words to spare. And yes, the piece was tighter, cleaner.
In other words, better.
I popped it in the mail and waited for the contest results.
When the winners were posted, my name did not appear. I really ought to have pouted or something, but I couldn’t. My five dollar entry fee bought one whiz-bang editing lesson.