Monday, February 25, 2008

Cutting Away The Dead Wood

I'm beat. Today I finally accepted that I couldn't put off pruning the rose bushes any longer.

I've talked before about how difficult it is for me to cut back my six rose bushes each year. Two years ago, I compared pruning roses to editing a manuscript in a post here.

I'd been working up to it for a couple of weeks. I'd already laid out my gloves, the shears, and the alcohol swabs on my workbench; I just hadn't done the deed.

It was a lovely day today. After cleaning the shears with the alcohol swabs, I started: (1) Cutting the dead wood; (2) Looking for the poorly placed canes to remove; and (3) Providing for cross ventilation. After each bush, I cleaned the shears again to ensure I would not carry a rose disease from one bush to another.

While I worked, I thought about the manuscript I'm working on. I've been fighting removing a couple of paragraphs of backstory in the first chapter. My critique partner, Maria, told me I needed to stay with the action. I didn't want to hear it.

As I removed the poorly placed canes--the ones that were growing sideways into the main canes--I realized that my backstory was growing sideways into my action. I dropped the shears, came back into the house and moved the backstory to my overflow folder. While I was at it, I removed a very clever bit of writing in the second chapter that didn't advance the story (but was oh, so clever).

When I returned to my bushes, I felt good about pruning both my manuscript and my roses.

When I get back from Bethesda, I'll spray and fertilize the bushes.

No comments: