I’ve been trying to de-clutter and simplify my life. It’s not easy, because I keep discovering more things to toss. I’m not just talking about knick-knacks, here—although I’m making headway on that front. So far, this year’s biggest clutter mission has been to rid myself of body-clutter—accumulated pounds that a wake-up call from my doctor is scaring me into losing.

Then last week I was assigned, by an editor at Steeple Hill, the toughest de-cluttering mission of all—getting rid of 20,000 words. Let me tell you, counting Weight Watcher points is nothing compared to ripping eighty pages out of my beloved novel. As all good writers do—I’d labored over every word. Polished every sentence. There was nothing left to cut.

At least that’s what I thought.

With the carrot of possible publication dangling in front of me, I’ve spent the past two weeks eliminating all the cute little rabbit holes I’d explored, deleting dozens of “he saids” and “she saids,” throwing out hundreds of adverbs. I even deleted a couple secondary plots to which I’d grown way too attached, and you know what? The people at Steeple Hill were right. I needed to lose eighty pages. Every bit of word-clutter I’ve thrown away has given my story more tension, made it tighter, given it punch.
Here’s the thing. I have a complicated life. Most of us do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Since beginning this adventure of becoming a published author, I’ve discovered that cutting out non-essentials is absolutely mandatory if I’m to succeed. For me, that means honing my life down to a short list of priorities: my faith, my family, my friends, my health, my writing. Everything else is a distraction.

Now (sigh) if I can just figure out how to toss the remaining thousand words…

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