Kill Your Darlings

I had no idea that when I decided to become a writer that I would become a cold-blooded killer as well.

Now, don't get me wrong.  This is justifiable homicide.

Allow me to plead my case.

Since we last spoke, I've been busy trying to establish some routines.  It's not enough to figure out what to write.  A person has to decide where to write, what time to write, how much to write, all while deciding when to do other stuff too.

Like shower.  And maybe fix dinner.

Now, it does not help that I decided to enter a fitness challenge and managed to wrangle a community garden plot.  I have obligations.  I don't want anyone to get the idea that I might be inefficient.  Or ineffective.


Well, okay, I missed my deadline.  Yes, it was an internally set deadline as God knows I have no editor, no agent, and no publisher.  Yet.

But still.

I took a hard look around.  I took a harder look inside.

I realized I was very, very distracted.  Very.  And my surroundings were distracting. I was cleaning up a whole lot of old e-mails and then reading the constant influx of new e-mails.  I subscribed to some new e-mails.  I read a bunch of news articles.  Blog articles.  I was even so kind as to post some of those to Facebook and Twitter so other people could read them.  You know, so they could be as enlightened as me.

After that, it was only polite to respond to the comments of those who responded to my articles.  Even if it was only a "like", that was surely better than ignoring the conversation, right?  And well, if they were going to read my stuff, shouldn't I stop and read what they were posting?

I became very informed.  Hell, I would have been very informed if I'd just stopped with reading the news articles and blogs.  But then I wouldn't have been able to see the videos of very important topics.  You know, we live in a video world.  Sometimes you have to watch rather than read to get the information you want.  The information you need.  But none of those things told me as much about myself as the surveys.

You know.  The surveys.  

What color is your aura?
What gem would you be?
What super power should you have?
What font are you?

Now, those are all well and good.  Useful even (although maybe nothing is as useful as the quiz telling you whether your cat should run for president).  But then I noticed some of them started to take a dark turn.

Who should you marry?
Are you living a lie?
Who should you kill?
How bad are your life choices?

Oh. Hell. No.

At this point I was feeling pretty shitty about myself.  Then I read the news article about how those surveys are really just being used for data mining.  To get your personal information.  So now some random asshole knows my font.  Man, I hate that.  Almost as much as I hate Comic Sans.

And this is how the slaughter began.

First, I started out easy.

I shut off the cable.  I tried to be as gentle as I could, since it required a fairly long and detailed conversation with a gentleman named John in customer service at the cable company.  I would compare it to a fairly uneventful smothering.  You know, like if you were to hold a pillow over someone's face, but they didn't struggle because they were sleeping soundly to begin with.

Nothing to it.

The next was the closest I came to a crime of passion.  It was that goddamn Candy Crush.  I'll admit that it wasn't thought out or discussed, but just executed.  Like a guillotine.

Gone.  Then I deleted every other time-sucking, life-wasting app that was pretty much just like it.

It still wasn't enough. Every time I struggled for a word, a thought, a continuous flow of consciousness in my writing, my mind would wander and I would think of something to 'look up' or someone to 'get back to'.  For the first time, I lacked serious focus when I needed it.

About that time, I received a text from my good friend Amy.  You remember her, the rapper.

Now I have something further to add about Amy.  Besides being able to rock heels, wrap dresses and quote rap, she has serious literary chops.  She loves to read.  She is highly creative.  If and when she tells me to check out an author, I do it.  She is also one of the most genuine, supportive and positive people I know without being irritating.  She's real.

So, when Amy asked me how my writing was going, I told her.  "For shit."  I told her about all my distractions.  Obstacles.  Blah, blah, blah.  And in typical Amy fashion, she listened (via text) and then just said, simply, and without a bunch of bullshit, "Oh.  You need Freedom."


So that is how I came to download the app that I believe will save my productivity.  It's like decluttering your house, your attic, your basement and garage in one weekend.  No distractions.  It shuts down everything on your computer except the applications installed so you can just get your damn work done.  Poof.  And while it's very easy, it's the equivalent of passing out 1000 glasses of poisoned Kool-Aid to all the fun things on your computer.  Mass murder by keystroke.

As I stand amid the litter of my dead distractions, it occurs to me that some of the best advice given to writers is to "kill your darlings".  I believe William Faulkner said it.  Stephen King repeated it.  Others have certainly advised it.

Kill your darlings.

Of course, they meant to slash out the suffocating prose that can creep into your writing when you're not paying attention.  Kill it.  Murder it before your work becomes pompous, gratuitous shit.

I murdered the other things first.  The diversions. The preoccupations.  The things preventing me from writing my own pompous, gratuitous shit.  And if that isn't quite what Mr. Faulkner meant?

Well, he didn't have the internet to distract him.

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