Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Let it go

I’ve been sitting at the computer for some time staring at three lines of dialogue. Finally, I take the cursor, highlight the lines, and as something inside of me screams against it, I hit the key marked d-e-l-e-t-e sending those words into cyber oblivion.

I try to recover from the sting.

I’m currently paring down the script for Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees again, and trying to cut the page count by about twenty. What I’m doing is tedious, but necessary because too many unnecessary words slow down the story.
Even as I posted this page from an old script, I see so much of  it has already been eliminated.
I can’t tell you how many times the script (as well as the book) has previously been edited. And here I am again scrutinizing Every. Single. Word. and asking myself: Is this word necessary? Does it convey the meaning in the most concise way? Is the verb in the sentence strong enough? Can I show the word with a picture rather than tell it with words, because film is a medium of images? Do I hold on to the words because they further the story or is it because I think they’re clever? Are these words repetitive in any way?

If the words fail these tests, they go—combinations of letters I thought I could never part with wind up blocked and deleted. I agonize over pushing that key, but there’s no way around it.

Some of you who aren’t writers are wondering why you’re still reading.

It’s this:  sometimes, you just need to let it go. You think your life will be forever altered if you unfurl your fingers from, if you loosen your grip around something you’ve held dearly for so long. Your life will change. But you still need to let it go.

I don’t know what that thing is in your life. Right now, for me, it’s that carefully crafted dialogue that took me hours to create and now, I’m backspacing it right off the page.

It’s painful for a while, but here’s the thing, when I go back and reread, I don’t even know it’s gone. The story reads more clearly, more tightly. You, too, may have clutter that you need to clear out so your life’s story won’t be encumbered. Maybe it’s material possessions, a business affiliation, a friendship that’s turned toxic or any number of other things that are weighing you down. Pray to God for strength to do this. He will help you.

I was standing in line at my favorite store, T.J. Maxx (they don’t pay me to say that), and a little Latino girl in front of me was speaking Spanish, obviously trying to persuade her mother to buy a package of hair barrettes, which bore the image of a popular animated princess who isn’t disturbed by wintry temperatures. I couldn’t understand a thing the little girl said to her mother except when she pointed to the barrettes and said the title of a song in perfect English, “Let it go.”

Perhaps life is full of unintelligible messages for you right now, but hear this clearly—sometimes you need to let it go.

A long time ago, a very wise man inspired by God said the same thing, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth. . .  a right time to hold on and another to let go . . . " (Ecclesiastes 3: 6 The Message) .


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