Late September afternoon, the sun is shining and I’m out in the garden with secateurs and loppers setting to work on a shrub. I’m not even sure what it is, I only know it was in the garden when we bought the house and it’s still here growing to humungous proportions each summer and needing to be cut down each autumn.
Pruning, cutting back, lopping off branches is one of my favourite jobs in the garden and today when I got into the zone, I began to think how much pruning dead wood reminds me of editing a book.
There is the same extravagant lushness that has to be culled in both. Purple passages excised in one, leafy growth in the other. Then there is the dead wood: the sentences that don’t add anything, the scenes that don’t move on the action and the complex sentences where a simpler one would be far more effective.
In the end, what is left is leaner, fitter and ready for the next season. In the case of the shrub, it will look better and grow more healthily.
As for the book; Letty Parker, Jeb, Mango and Hepzibah will become part of the readers’ imaginative world, so that they won’t be able to wait for the sequel to “City of Secrets” and the next one of “The Adventures of Letty Parker.”