"In art economy is always beauty."
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1. to let fall, exude, or precipitate in drops or in a wet mist
2. a: to subject to or transform by distillation (distill molasses into rum) b: to obtain by or as if by distillation (distill whiskey) (able to distill humor from personal loss) c : to extract the essence of : concentrate
I didn't keep this piece Kono raw. Sorry Kono, I couldn't help myself. But I made only minor changes. Negligible. Barely noticeable.
I gave the unedited piece to my writing professor, as I had drafted it as the skeletal beginnings of a short story. He didn't mark it up so much, but where he did, it counted. Where I had doubted or debated, he discerned. He suggested the deletion of a sentence, rewording of another, addition of tension, and a title change. But since I've already published it, title modification would require some magic. If I'm able to spin its threads into a luscious fabric of short story I'll woolgather title then.
In any event, this is not only about tweaking of story, it's springtime and I am working on distilling. (As it appears to me that my life, in general, would benefit from assiduous editing as well.)
While doing that—distilling, editing—I'm cleaning and moving things around, adding here, subtracting there, attempting to extract the essence of a thing. All things. So, it's a little topsy-turvy here, on this blog and elsewhere, but this is what happens when one distills. Things can get quite messy during the process, even a little sticky, sour and odiferous. But it's worth the effort, as the residual is often sweet tang."Art, it seems to me, should simplify finding what conventions of form and what detail can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole—so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader’s consciousness as much as if it were in the type on the page." ~Willa Cather
I'm looking around my house at all the Stuff. All the kitchenware, Weller and McCoy pottery, old glass and antiques. (I cleaned drawers recently and found eight different bottle stoppers—what does that say about my wine habit?) Do I need any of this Stuff? Does it enhance my life? Does it help me better understand the universe? No. It's just layers of Stuff. Layering. Layers are nice, layering is good in story and it keeps us warm, protects and adds texture. But the weight and grandiloquence of layering also suffocates. If I pare down, can I retain the spirit of the whole?
It was DaVinci who said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
I think editing is successful when the act of omission is not a liability. And when addition does not change the sum of all the parts.
So I'll keep editing. Weed out the yard and house: toss old cans in my pantry, purge my wardrobe, trash magazines, whittle away at all my Stuff. That goes for my habits, vices and attitude as well—I'm going to be separating wheat from chaff. I'm going for essence. I'm distilling. And hoping for bounty—a stiff shot of rare and exquisite whiskey.