Writer Quotes: Thoreau.

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” -Henry David Thoreau.

I am a firm believer that there is no one way in which a person can or should write, but one of the more interesting methods followed by man is the idea that you write, write, write, write your little heart out and create all these words, and then you go in there and you par away a good chunk of them, 30%, 50%, maybe more,, cutting away and leaving only the best. This is a strategy I’m sure many people employ in NaNoWriMo, where we’re just trying to get that word count and a good portion of the words are written for the sake of the count, and won’t be much use when we finally get away to editing. There’s a certain idea that the real gem of the story is hidden away beneath all the other words.

As I’m editing Serpent in a Cage, I’m trimming an awful lot of fat, to the point where I wonder if I’ll even have enough words at the end of the day to make a good length book. And it astonishes me that it takes more time to polish up fewer words than it took to create the larger bulk of them in the first place. This quote from Thoreau definitely helps me remember that there are quite a few authors who have realized that a story might be of a shortened length, but the beauty is in the brevity, that there were probably many, many more words before it, and only the best have remained. Take flash fiction, for example. The stories are short, and there’s a lot of them, but I still stand by my opinion that it takes a very special flash fiction to make a good story, and I highly doubt they were created in a mere flash. Even the shortest of stories take time and crafting. And while we’re in NaNoWriMo, it might just take a month to write a novel, but it takes much longer to make one.

Luckily, the making of the story is just as much fun as initial writing! Most of the time, anyway…

I should also mention that it’s very validating to be loved by your pets, and to have them show their love in such a way that one cat will actually just got and sit on the other cat’s head just so he can be the one closer to you on the bed. Genghis is a morning cuddler, and he was not about to let the fact that Baldur was already there to let that get in his way. This is while I’m already practically hanging off the edge of the bed because of how they’ve positioned themselves through the night. Oh, cats….

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5 thoughts on “Writer Quotes: Thoreau.

  1. I agree that there’s no one way a person should write. I am definitely NOT one of those writers who churn out words and then go cut stuff out. In fact, I usually end up adding stuff in where I had left holes. But I kind of edit as I go, so there’s not as much to do in the final edits. And the more you write and exercise those writing muscles, the better you get at writing that first draft.

    I love cats. My husband won’t let me have one in the house anymore (that’s another whole story), and I can’t have cats outside because we have coyotes. So no cats for me right now. 😦

    1. That’s a bummer about the cats, Lauralynn! I used to be a dog person until I got Genghis and Baldur, and they’ve been such a part of my life that it’s hard to imagine what it would be like without them.

      I’m realizing I put in a lot of filler in my first drafts that either have little bearing on the main plot or need to be reworked more effectively, so I’ve been cutting a lot of stuff, but I’ve been refining what remains, and it’s just really interesting to see it take shape. More like chiseling down marble than reshaping clay, I guess! Mmmm. Metaphors.

      Thanks for stopping by, always. : )

  2. I miss my cats! I have an old english sheepdog, and she is such a goofy beast. She is the polar opposite of a snobby, sophisticated cat. I need both, I think.

    I think I’m with Lauralyn on the word counts. It’s hard for me to churn them out!

    1. We’ve got a goofy, skittish mutt at our place, too. It’s definitely a complete world with a little of each.

      Lately, the word counts have just been dogging (haha, couldn’t help it) me a lot, too, but I think I’m about to come out of a funk soon.

  3. My cats compete for my attention, during the night as well.

    I’ve cut many pages of my draft–which took me nothing to write since I did a quick draft awhile back–and then I’m spending an awful lot of time perfecting a page here and there.

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