Editing and Closets

Editing a book––or conquering any big, complex project––is a bit like organizing a closet that hasn’t been cleaned in years.

The first time you look inside and realize the scope and magnitude of what you’re dealing with, you want to RUN FOR THE HILLS.  So much stuff.  So many memories.  You feel attached to all of it.

When you finally muster the courage to take that closet on, you begin by dividing things into segments.  What you haven’t worn; what is torn and tattered; the things that no longer fit.  After awhile, patterns begin to emerge––you see that you have 400 black dresses, a single white t-shirt and only a few things with a smattering of color.  Tells you a little something about balance.

After that first pass––while you’ve gotten rid of the obvious––you still have more than you need.  You’re still having a hard time letting go because you can’t get past what it cost you to acquire those 400 black dresses; the long hours of work you had to put in to pay for them.

With each pass, you get a little more discerning; things get easier.  You’re able to say, “Even though it cost me, it doesn’t look good on me; it no longer fits.”

You keep the cycle going until you are down to the essentials––the base and foundation.  And then it becomes glaringly obvious where the holes are.  And you fill those in.  And when you’re done, you can start tweaking; adding a belt here, a shoe there––a polish and a rub.

Editing––like any big project––does not have to be overwhelming.  You just have to stand back and think before you begin.  Organize, break things down in small bites, detach from ‘what is’ and envision ‘what can be.’  And when you’re ready, you’ll know exactly where and how to begin.