Killing Your Darlings, Softly

When your book has to cut weight or die Writing a novel has a lot in common with gardening You prepare the soil, removing rocks and dead roots (limiting beliefs, self-defeating assumptions) and adding amendments (reading, daydreaming). You select seeds (story ideas), plant them carefully, water them judiciously as they sprout (rough drafting). You guard the tender seedlings from rough weather (premature feedback) until they’ve hardened off. You care for your crop as it grows and blossoms (a story!). You pick off pests (clichés, misplaced modifiers), pluck out weeds (stray characters, rogue sentences), until eventually — after months, sometimes years — you harvest the…

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A Sonnet for my Sister

Going into care was the best heartbreaking option The bird with ruined wings still hopes to fly,But keepers kind have feathered her last nest.Intending well, they turn her from the skyAnd urge her fragile, hollow bones toward rest. There was a time the sky was hers to roam;The wind, the sun, the open air, her friends.Her world’s now shrunk to this, her strange new home.Kind keepers say, all journeys have their ends. She flutters, fretful in the building’s bounds,Its other inmates long since turned to stone.The keepers kind, they wheel her ‘round the grounds.In sleep, she soars above them all…

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Tip: Pack the Wine Last

5 simple steps to preparing for a move Step 1: Sell your house If your house is in California, particularly anywhere in or near the San Francisco Bay Area, this is likely to happen with blinding speed. It’s nice to be on the shiny side of the region’s apparently pop-immune real estate bubble. Still, it’s a little disorienting when your house hits the market on a Monday and is in contract on Wednesday. Don’t complain. Nobody wants to hear it. Step 2: Notice you have a lot of stuff You downsized when you moved to this place, vowing to live forevermore in…

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