My husband and I have a small cherry and apple orchard down in the valley that we're managing. The other day I learned how to prune. I don't think I did a very good job. It was so hard!
There were so many branches. Which ones to cut? Which would create the best shaped tree that will ultimately bring forth the fruit in the best way possible? "Try to imagine the sun coming in and where it will hit when the leaves have all come in on the tree," my husband told me. But it was hard to see in my mind what the end result would be. There are no leaves, no fruit. Just bare branches. A lot of them.
So I trimmed. Here and there. I stood back and looked, trimmed some more. Just a little at a time. I didn't really have a plan. I think there is a lot more that needs to get cut back on the poor tree that I was pruning.
All that cutting made me realize how much easier it is for me to cut pieces out of my manuscripts than it is for me to cut live pieces from a tree. That seems weird because cutting a manuscript can be really hard. I think that perhaps cutting gets easier the longer you write. At least it has for me. I know when I write that not everything is going to work. And I never seem to have a fully formed plan when I sit down to write. I know that I just have to get it down on paper first. I do have some stories that carry over into years, but they have just been sitting, not growing. Maybe that's why they are easier to cut than a tree. I don't know. But I do know the pruning will make the trees better. They'll produce higher quality fruit. Of course, the cutting needs to be done correctly. So I'm going to have to practice.
One thing I have learned with my writing is that sometimes you can cut practically the entire story and take off in a completely new and unexpected direction and the story comes out even better than it was before. You can rethink your characters, change up your storyline, and by golly, take out those weak lines. You just might be surprised what you come up with. You'll never know until you make that cut! And, of course, you can keep a back up of the previous version in case the cutting doesn't work. I wish I could do that with trees!
Do you do a lot of cutting on your manuscripts? Do you find it hard? Do you have any tree pruning tips? Let me know!