Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Unseen Pages

Once again, I'm indebted to a fellow student who's called my attention to the obvious. Two days ago, when I excused myself from writing due to sickness, it's treatment, or both, he suggested I have another essay or two in the bag for just such an occasion.

I've been reflecting on his comment and the amount of material that never makes it onto the finished page every day, and a quote from Elie Wiesel that I keep in my journal came to mind: "There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the beginning and a book of two hundred pages which results from an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred pages are there. Only you don't see them." I feel certain this is something with which my friends and fellow writers Crystal Mary Lindsey and Garnet of Maine can easily identify.

My mind is like sheep -- if I don't keep an eye on it, next thing you know, it's wandered off. In the course of settling on five or six paragraphs each day, there are another ten or twelve that never find their way onto "paper." Sometimes they look very good in themselves but within the context of wherever it is you think you're trying to go, they're inconvenient distractions.

When putting our book together, Lynn and I went through this process hundreds of times, asking whether we'd covered a topic adequately or if there was "one more thing" we could say only to find we'd already said it elsewhere. So, at some point, you say to yourself, this is as good as it's going to get. Additions and deletions aside, you imagine yourself like a skydiver, standing in the doorway of the plane, hoping you land on soft turf -- or at least something vaguely intelligible.

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