Monday, February 16, 2009

Enough Torn Hair for a Barbershop

I hate them. They're malevolent and insidious. They steal from me. I hate them.

Leech words. I want to grab them and squeeze 'em until they pop. I can almost feel the little buggers in my hand... slimy little leech words, full of my blood, full of my precious story energy. Stolen! I'm gonna squish 'em to pulp. I'm gonna dissect them with my metaphorical red pen and drop 'em in my metaphorical dustbin.

(Because, you know, I use a computer. No red pens. At least not very often. It's hard to read the screen after awhile)

Leech words. Yes, if I could do sound effects there would be growling here. Possibly hissing. Maybe biting. I have no dental plan, so biting might be 50-50. Verbal violence, surely.

Leech words. They are my enemy, and they seep surreptitiously into all my first drafts. They're there, they're always there. Words that undercut my own lines and meanings, undercut my story. Leech words, draining necessary blood from my own writing. Lifeblood, bright and vivid.

I can't seem to avoid them. Every time I think I have... I'm wrong. They're there. Always there. "Almost" is there, and "maybe." And "sort" brought a friend in "of" so that together they can form the ghastly "sort of". Oh, and "slight" and his cousin "slightly"... how do they always sneak in? And then there's "kind of" and "seems", and "might be" and "mostly" (who masquerades as a grand and valuable world as if to belie his smallness). Oh yes, I hate them.

I hate how they almost turn a sentence into something that mostly prevaricates, sort of deadening the impact of the line in a way that maybe harms the intent despite the fact that the words might seem slightly invisible to the eye, as if they might be okay in the end, a kind of language that's almost as natural as breathing.

(Oh, it itched to write that... like I could feel their little pucker-mouths clamping down and beginning to suck)

Oh yes, I hate them. I'm on the twelfth draft of a book and still I find them... lingering, hiding in the crevices, blinking up at me with false innocence. I pull my hair. Pull it right out until tangled tufts form little drifts on the floor around my computer.

I tell myself it's a good fight. A just fight. Truth, Justice and the Novelist's way. I keep fighting, and honorably. But if the Geneva Convention looks away for just a moment...


Heidi C. Vlach said...

Fight the good fight! Leech words make a great squelchy sound when you stomp on 'em.

Ink said...

I'm thinking chemical weapons and focused tactical nukes... Some may say "overkill", but I'll say "satisfaction".


Ms Kitty said...

Calm down Ink!

They are just words. Little words, yes, useless words, maybe.

That's why we have computers, so you don't have to retype every page, over and over, when you find the little buggers.

Just watch out for white out on the screen, it never comes off. (G)

Ink said...

That reminds me of an old blonde joke I once heard...

Bookworm1605 said...

You mean to tell me those words are bad? I mean, they used leeches in the middle ages for medicinal purposes, yeah? And more recently, researchers have determined that some leeches actually pass an antibiotic along to their hosts.

C'mon man, someone has to stand up for the leeches of the world. They're just a bunch of misunderstood suckers.

Ink said...

It is possible to use those words in a good way. But I'm suspicious. Deeply suspicious. Easier just to blast them all and let God sort it out. :)

You gotta love the smell of napalm in the morning (at least while editing, and as long as you have a Boston Creme donut and a hot chocolate on hand).

Sarah Jensen said...

snake venom works. I saw it on PBS last night. It kills roaches too.

I find the sorry little buggers lurking through my work also. I try to destroy them, but I think they sometimes multiply and come back full force.

Good thing betas can often catch and destroy them. :)

Ink said...

Hmmmm.... snake venom? Hmmmm....