No, this TMI lesson has to do with writing. And I learned it in my twice-monthly critique night. The teachers? Linda O'Connell, Lynn Obermoeller, T'Mara Goodsell and Beth M. Wood. They're better than nuns at rapping my knuckles when I do wrong...
At our last class meeting of the WWWP (Wild Women Wielding Pens), I shared a hockey story. Chicken Soup had a call-out for hockey stories (the deadline is tomorrow) and even sent out a reminder, which--to my way of thinking--meant they didn't have very many submissions. Since I had no real hockey stories, I thought even I might have a chance. Because I had two "near" stories.
I brought both, thinking I could beg them to read the other story sometime in the next week and send it back to me, all marked-up. (I even had stamped envelopes at the ready, in case anyone agreed.) The problem was, the deadline would come before we had the chance to meet again. Two piles of crap had a better chance than only one, I thought.
And the lesson I learned is this: sometimes part of the story is TMI. It may be part of the story that you get down, in the initial draft, and in your mind, it's really a part of it. However, if it doesn't move the story along, if the story can stand without it, cut it loose.
In one of the stories, I was in the locker room with a bunch of teachers and one hunky hockey player (true). There was quite a scandal because
Since that was true, I thought it important to include. Of course, the WWWP's went after me with a meter stick. The fact that some men were in the group was unimportant. Delete. Immediately.
The other story (in the end, they looked at both, after moaning and groaning about this one) got some major slash-and-burn work done. Half the story was spent explaining how I got some tickets to a semi-pro hockey game. Was it important that teachers sometimes got the chance to get free tickets to a comedy club or a semi-pro baseball or hockey game? No. So, a 1,200 word story ended up 37 words long (just a slight exaggeration).
Barry Lane talks about three drafts. The Down Draft is when you get the story down. Just let the words flow, and banish your inner critic during this phase. Then, there is the Up Draft. This is where you fix it up. Revise. I should have cut those dead limbs then. Finally, there is the Dental Draft. That's where you look at every nook and cranny, checking for anything loose, anything that's out of place...the editing part, and the final touches of revision.
Do you have any stories about having a part of a story or poem that you thought was integral but later saw the light?