Where I write

Where I write

August 1, 2011

How Writing Is like Old Underwear

This photo is of my closet door. Behind it are all my clothes. Each week, or so, I straighten out my closet, but even then it doesn't look like a photo of how a proper closet SHOULD look. And as much as I enjoy being honest, I don't want everyone to see how sometimes my clothes dangle off hangers, my belts and socks are all jumbled up, and I don't fold neatly. Never really learned how to fold neatly much like I still don't do napkins folds correctly at work. Now if I had a closet like this I would for sure let you inside:

This closet actually scares me because I imagine the person who lives in a house with such a closet most likely wouldn't want you to put a cup on the coffee table without a coaster, or let you linger too long in her living room for fear you might actually sit on her couch. My sister's mother in-law used to have plastic on her couch and when I slept overnight there my bed was the couch and I crackled all night long each time I turned.
It's important as writers we learn it's okay to be messy when you write the first draft. If you try to be too perfect, to clean and controlled, then you end up with stiff, boring writing. Anyway, as I was straightening up my closet last week I realized I have a difficult time throwing away underwear! Why is that? I recalled when I worked as a server (of course) at a comedy club in Phoenix. One of the woman comedians, and they were far and few between, asked all of us female servers how she could make a joke out of women's underwear. To be specific, this comedian had been performing in Las Vegas and noticed that many of the performers in the dressing room had raggedy underwear. She thought that was a hoot that these glamorous girls walked around in baggy old undies. All of us servers gave her blank stares, mentally inventorying our own closets and the state of our underwear. None of us had any suggestions how she could make pretty girls in old underwear funny. This time as I straightened my closet I forced myself to toss out underwear that I'm ashamed to say had lost its elastic and faded from too many washes. I mentioned this to a guy friend and he said he doesn't even wear underwear. Ick. Another guy friend said he uses his underwear up until they are threadbare and I couldn't say ick because I'm heading that direction myself. So who is buying Victoria Secret underwear? Am I the only one wearing underwear past its due date?
I have special occasion underwear but I don't own big white wings. And let's not even talk about panties and bra matching. All this rumination about underwear made me think about how when I write I sometimes get way too fond of certain sentences or paragraphs or even entire chapters. And as I began the revision process of my novel (yes I finally have) I thought how I need to treat my writing sorta like that old underwear in my closet that I just threw in the trash. Not all of it mind, you. I don't plan to stop wearing underwear. I just need to understand that as precious as my words might seem that there are more where they come from and sometimes you just have to be brutal and throw away an entire chapter as if it was old underwear. If it doesn't work with the story than it has to go. I had a good time wearing (writing) them but now it is time to write (wear) something new that fits better with the story, with me.
P.S. If you find this blog too silly I totally understand but please remember everyday it is sunny and about 109 degrees outside here in Phoenix and, well, maybe my brain is  cooked!
P.P.S I just know some girl is going to tell me she doesn't wear underwear and that's perfectly fine. I'm non judgmental about underwear.

9 comments:

Brandy Lee said...

shhh don't tell anyone but, .... I wear granny panties! hilarious!

Rita A. said...

Your headline got my attention, if nothing else. I don't get it all either. I go for comfort over anything fancy...and in Arizona cotton is it.

cbwentworth said...

Woman may be bad about not throwing away underwear, but men are far worse. Ha ha!

I love your analogy to writing as it is so true! :-)

Anonymous said...

Susanne: You are more ambitious than me. Blogging your funny pieces and going thru your closet regularly....the Denver building is exactly as I imagined it as G's apt and job...Love, Tracy

Expostulator said...

Closets are for hiding secrets, both literally and metaphorically.

A neat closet, like a neat refrigerator, or desk is the sign of a sick mind.

I love the picture with the wings. My second thought was, how could I get a full size set of wings to open and close properly? How much would an operating rig weigh?

gloria said...

Another excellent post Susanne! Makes me want to check my underwear drawer (not!). Really makes me think how we coin a favorite phrase sometimes and try to work it into the story when we may have to let it go--save it for another piece--and create a new phrase that tells the story. Great job! Can't wait to see your final draft! XO

tbnranch said...

I loved this, and I'm absolutely not going to tell you I don't wear underwear. Now you'll never know...

Stella said...

Well...sometimes

SunsetCindi said...

Maybe we hang onto our underwear so long cause it's so close to our soul, isn't that where the soul is, somewhere in that fiery chakra? I'm a firm believer that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, so as long as it doesn't fall onto the ground, the underwear stays.