Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 26, 2012

Ninety Pages Down, and Feeling Grateful for the Workout (Really!)

It wasn’t so very long ago that I wrote a blog post called One Hundred Pages about my grouchiness when my writing group thought I might try to cut down part of my manuscript by about a third. It seemed impossible, but it turns out it wasn’t. It seemed like it would be tortuous. From this point about two months later, I’d say it mostly hurt at first, like the proverbial bandaid, but my husband says, no, I’ve been grumbling throughout. I hope not every day. There definitely is an ouch element to stripping away what you painstakingly constructed. But as I hacked out holes, I found new things to insert. Putting one scene against another brought out new elements in both.  There’s definitely more muscle to the piece, less sag. I’m thankful to my writing group for raising the bar, even if I know I’ll grumble again. I’ve still got the second part of this manuscript to bring them.

But for most of the summer, I’ll be working on that in solitude, hoping to keep that manuscript on its healthy diet (thanks for the metaphor, Ellen!) and working out every day: no excess conversations! No lumpy descriptions! I’m glad I did the trimming (can we use the word trim? I’m trying to stay away from hacking away) and glad to embark on new material, cheered on by facebook friends – Thank you!  I’ll be doing the best I can to get everything right as it felt during a walk with my friend Jess around The New England Peace Pagoda today. The world is so beautiful. Sometimes we don’t need to add much.



  1. Well your words are always a beautiful addition to the world!

    But of course you should keep trimming. I find the challenge of lowering word count to be quite enjoyable! It’s amazing how much extra verbiage goes in the first number of rounds.

    • Thank you, Joyce. I guess like most of the writing process, it’s sometimes fun, and sometimes painful. Really, cutting 90 pages is easier than adding 90! So I’ll quit complaining… for now. Appreciate your company in the process!

  2. Agree with Joyce. Your words are definitely a beautiful addition to the world. Nothing wrong with grumbling while trimming. I hope there have been chocolate rewards along the way.

    • Jama, you are the queen of sweetness. Letting me grumble and offering chocolate, too!

  3. Love the pictures, really nice.

    Congratulations on the trim! In a way I like editing more than the original writing, knowing it’s improving the piece but I admit cutting 90 pages would seem overwhelming!

    • Thanks, Susan. Yes, I often enjoy cutting, too. It was the number of pages that made me reel. But it was a the truth hurts situation; I think it was necessary.

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