Friday, January 18, 2019

Editing ~ What to Keep. What to Let Go.


A few weeks ago, I met a woman whom had been recently diagnosed with  with the same rare autoimmune condition which I have.  She said she was making herself crazy by “editingeverything out of her life.”  Everything in her life became a suspect. Could this food, shampoo, lotion, or make-up have triggered an inflammatory response?  Could this person, activity, thought pattern have caused the stress in her life that triggered inflammation?  

I was struck by her use of the word edit as she described her response to a recent life altering diagnosis.  Edit is a word that I associate with writers, teachers, English majors, editors.  It is not a word I associate with the general public, and yet it seems that in these times, so many in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances are working on  editing something of the other out of our of living experience.

Everyone seems to be tidying up.  Instagram and Facebook are filled with photos of folks cleaning out closets, or they post photos of newly folded clothes.  It seems this act of editingunwanted or unloved “stuff” out of our lives is the new thing to do.  

In writing, and in life, the question is often created in our minds:  What do I keep, and what do I let go?  

Could it be that before we can become good writers, we must learn the art of letting go, or editing, all that impedes our ability to write?  Writing requires good editing, but perhaps before we even begin to write, we must edit all that gets in the way of writing. 

Henry David Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.

Are you working on editing something out of your life right now?  If so what?  Why did you decided you needed to make this change?


  1. I edited the kitchen counter this morning, which in turn made me edit a cupboard!

    Terry's espresso maker sat in the corner of the counter for decades but he seldom used it. Last night I asked him about it, do you want to keep it (yes), can it go under the counter (yes). So this morning I took it off the counter and looked for cabinet space. To achieve that, I had to get rid of a very large bowl that I've had for 38 years but haven't used in over 10 and a bamboo steamer that I had for all those dinner parties I used to have and no longer do so.

    I would say I have moved part of my "writing" and deleted another part, rearranging for clarity.

  2. Paring down - I do it daily. I loved big words when I was young, but then a teacher somewhere along the way told me that a person who could convey ideas and feelings in a simple way was actually a better writer - more people could understand what was written and relate. That was good advise for me - I've been trying to edit ever since. I write and rewrite and even after I publish a post, I go back and change things occasionally. Same with the photography - I edit most photos I use. I'm pretty ruthless about simplicity in the house. I'm not a collector at heart. I display beloved objects, often items made for me or given to me by others. I think maybe I should have edited this lengthy comment!

  3. Well now, that's an interesting question! Having become paralyzed a year ago during heart surgery, I feel I'm editing just about everything out of my life! There's very little of the old me left now. What doesn't get conciously edited just gets dropped by the way. And I'm surprised at how little I miss the old while I build the new.

  4. I'm working on editing the stress level that comes from being politically active. I also have some editing to do on my self and my physical well being.

  5. Editing in writing can be difficult as is throwing out of things not used or wanted when spring cleaning and that is what I am doing at present and I am being brutal this time. Clutter clogs your mind and so when you get rid of it, it clears the mind and you feel really good. You have more room and more order in your home. i hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  6. I am more into the revision process than editing. I am trying to make things better, hit just the right meaning, but I don't feel ready for that final polish that I consider an edit.

  7. Always enjoy your blog so much. Check on my favorite blogs every couple of weeks. So happy to read three of your entries. Love the depth of your writing and thoughts.
    Caught the "tidying up" by watching the Marie Kondo Netflix episodes. After inheriting many items from my mother, trying to edit has gotten easier with Kondo's method of telling an object you were grateful for its use and letting it go.

  8. another word i like is SIMPLICITY which can include editing or getting down to the important basics...

  9. This is very interesting because I was just checking out the closets and kitchen cabinets to edit out things that are cluttering our lives. Oh... I see gena mentioned Marie Kondo. That's what got me started. Someone mentioned her to me.

  10. I love, love, love editing writing. Love it. My own stuff, anyone's stuff. And the rest of editing -- the cupboards, closets, art supplies, books, etc. -- I HATE IT! Maybe I should look at it like a manuscript!


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