“killing [my] darlings”: on writing, criticism, and attachment

I’ve returned from my hiatus. For the 3 people that wondered where I was, I have two words: Field Notes. Behold:


While I hid behind the cover and the graphic layout, my fellow editor (the handsome fellow on the cover) wrangled the contributing writers*. I watched from the sidelines as each piece of writing was tailored to suit my space limitations – sentences rearranged, lovingly-written paragraphs deleted.

In response to one particularly pressing email entitled “I’m Sorry to Pester but will I see your Final Draft Today?”, one of our writers responded, “Killing a few more darlings… be with you shortly.”

And that brings me to where I am today. I write. I am edited… I kill my darlings. And it’s so, so hard.

One would think that after years of rearranging my artwork to suit merciless** clients, I would get used to criticism. Taking my FAVORITE PART of that painting and just slapping another layer means NOTHING to me, REALLY. And most of the time, it really doesn’t. (Because I secretly scanned it before I painted over that REALLY GREAT THING and I’m going to put the version that I like on my website).

But writing is different. I don’t know why, yet. Maybe by the end of the summer, when I’ve written 15 narratives and surrendered each one to 3-6 editors, I’ll know.

But for now, I’m just going to hike the rest of Maine. It’s a big state and I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.


**BTW, you should totally give money to this writing program. We’ve got Bryan Pfeiffer, Hamilton Davis, Bernd Heinrich, and Thor Hanson on our team!
*No, of course I’m not talking about you. You’re my favorite!


7/15/14 UPDATE: All of the 2013 issue of Field Notes is available here, and all of my summer 2013 Natural Heritage Hikes are available here.

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