What I learned About Editing While Moving Furniture

One of my favorite lines from Alice in Wonderland is when the Mad Hatter asks Alice one of his nonsensical riddles: “How is a raven like a writing desk?”  Of course there is no answer. The Mad Hatter has no idea how a raven is like a writing desk, as I’m sure some of you may be

English: Screenshot of The Mad Hatter from the...

scratching your heads wondering how is moving furniture like editing?

Last week I desperately needed a new configuration of my furniture in the family room. For years the television was in the wrong place, sticking out into the middle of the room like a big sore thumb. In order to get our furniture to fit properly certain pieces absolutely had to go a certain way. Well, all that has changed since we realized we now need new stuff. Out with the old! In with the new! I had it all firmly in mind how I wanted the room to look. Even friends and trusted advisers recommended moving the television to the far wall and getting smaller pieces of furniture in addition to removing items that just didn’t fit. Long story short, we purchased two nice, smallish recliner’s got the TV situated on the opposite end and moved in a smaller sofa. However, it just didn’t fit! It wasn’t what I wanted. I had it so perfectly in mind and yet, placed in the way I thought it should work it still didn’t work! I was aggravated. After moving the furnishings around yet again, ridding the room of things that only cluttered up the tables (rule: three items to a table) things started coming together. This process actually took two or three days, but the end result is charming, and we are satisfied — for now.

Then it occurred to me that rearranging furniture in a room is just like editing. I will get an idea in my head how I think a certain thing will look on paper, and it seems like the best story, best blog, you-fill-in-the-blank-thing, ever! But, after reading it I can clearly see it has no life, no spark, it’s nonsensical! It just doesn’t work. After a night in restless sleep I will come back to it, move this word here, that word there, and this paragraph right out. After a nice brisk walk I will yet again re-visit the “work” and see a different pattern, or re-arrangement of words that suits quite nicely. I might bring in a trusted adviser editor to get their opinion. After a little while it makes sense and has the feel and rhythm I had envisioned.

Many times a writer dreads the editing process, with good reason. But,revision needn’t be revulsion when it comes to the re-write. When looked at from a different perspective, editing can be enjoyable.  Removing the clutter (unnecessary metaphors and adjectives) can give your work a fresh approach and you might find you like the end result a lot better.

How do you edit? Is it like puzzle pieces? Moving furniture? Or something else? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!


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