Murdering Your Darlings is the title of a current podcast I am listening to. It is a writing podcast. By murdering your darlings, the author (who speaks with an academic British voice) is referring to going back and rewriting your old work, work you may have shelved.
Oh, how I wish I could go back to certain portions of my life, certain moments, and rewrite them. Like when my firstborn was little, I would not have been so hard on her or hard on Hubby for having a different parenting style as me. Or the many times I fretted about things that I really shouldn’t have. There are so many hindsight moments in my life when in my older age, I look back or after going through something rather difficult I realize,”I could’ve handled that better” or “that wasn’t so bad”.
More times than I care to admit I have heard myself tell someone, “If I had a crystal ball…to see how far we/they have come” in reference with our ninos. I may not have been so affected by their behaviors. I could surely use some rewrites for the last almost two years.
Not to get too deep here, but I think it’s what we would do if we really got a chance to rewrite some of our past stories, moments that really matter. Why we would tweak it here and there. I know some people would leave it as is. Our past is who we are no matter good or bad. We build on those choices, those moments. While we technically can’t go back in time and rewrite our history we hopefully learn from them.
The author in the podcast stated that “the best test is to read your story out loud, and read it to someone.” He went on to say that, and I paraphrase, more or less in my own words, if it doesn’t sound quite right then rearrange some words or sentences until it sounds smoother, more cohesive. Man, I don’t know about you but there are parts of my story (and I am a pretty open book) that I do NOT what read aloud by me or anyone, especially to someone. Thank God for God’s forgiveness and grace right here. However, it does make me stop and take note that I can look back in time and rewrite my future by not repeating the not so positive choices I made in my past. I can even rewrite the positive by making it even better.
On ending a novel, the podcast concluded, there are many ways one could choose.The open-ended version of like Anton Chekhov “And so it began to rain” or “have multiple endings, one that offers closure or a conclusion or something else.” Here is where the writing challenge was assigned. To read a story, “and locate the moment when a fissure is planted in the narrative. Some gap between scenes for example. Your aim is to write a story that fills that gap, stays with the original subject and to do so using the author’s narrative style and the point of view.” He gives further instructions to “try to bring your story to a close after 1500 words, but attempt to end it like Anton Chekhov. Give it an open ending.” I like that, especially when applied to life. Locate the fissure and basically rewrite it, giving it an open ending. Because life is open ended.