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Writing about destroying without pity

“ Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his/ her own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” —Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette

These two lines have held my attention all of last week, because I’ve been revising some of my work. And “without pity” just about describes almost everything I’ve done to my drafts.

I need to sit down and revise my writing more often.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

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4 Comments

  • I think we have to get beyond the idea that we're hurting ourselves when we cut out passages we love. We owe ourselves (I'm totally ignoring the idea of anything owed to readers now) the strongest, best work we can write. A beautiful garden requires even the loveliest of flowers to be thinned now and again. What remains in the garden will only shine more gloriously. I've learned to be so dispassionate with my cuts that my girlfriend is scared whenever I sit down to edit.

  • Damyanti says:

    I agree, Lotusgirl.

    Payton, I guess I'm not very attached to what I write once it is out, and then letting it lie for a spell helps. I can be mighty ruthless…and, the process is quite painless for me too 🙂

  • Ooohhh…, that's precisely what I have to learn to do much more of – attack my drafts without mercy. Thanks for the salient reminder Damyanti.

    But it hurts! Each word somehow can invade my being and grow a neuron into my brain, meaning pain when it's cut out.

  • lotusgirl says:

    revision is what makes good writing great.

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