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Can You Hack It?

May 3rd, 2007

My fingers wrapped around the weeds’ tiny necks, while my knees dug into the dirt. The humidity sucked sweat from my forehead, and spiders darted through the grass. This is what they call “the dirty work.”

Weeding. Editing. I see little difference. And somebody’s gotta do it.

The words were spread across the pages, cultivated, mowed, landscaped for an effect. Inevitably, pesky little weeds had cropped up. I knelt there in the rich soil of my imagination and glared at the buggers. I didn’t want to deal with them. Not again. I thought I had learned to tone down the adverbs. Thought I had tightened the dialogue.

“Doesn’t add to the story.” “Needs more conflict.” “Try a different simile.”

What? Didn’t these editors get it? Didn’t they see the edged lawn and pruned shrubs of this prickly little tale? No wonder they edited. They couldn’t write. They couldn’t hack it as real authors.

“Hack.” Hmm, interesting word.

Maybe a hack is all I really am, a man armed with twenty-six letters and a will to tell stories. Maybe hacking at the weeds is what it takes to cultivate a healthy garden. Perhaps, in this tedious process, I am learning what it takes to become a better writer, a better husband, a better man.

With five books completed, I feel I have a lot more to discover. As I stare at editor’s suggestions and contemplate future projects, I ask myself: “Can you hack it?”

My right pinkie moves toward the “delete” button–and I pull another weed.

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  1. Janet Berliner
    May 3rd, 2007 at 12:04 | #1

    Right–write–to the point. Good one. –Janet

  2. Elizabeth Massie
    May 3rd, 2007 at 13:01 | #2

    Yep, that’s what it feels like, all right. Trim, hack, weed. Sometimes even slash and burn with hopes something better will grow up out of the ash-enriched soil. Nice essay. Thanks, Eric.

    Beth

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