Thinning Peaches and Prose

This morning as I was avoiding my desk, I felt compelled to tend to my garden.  Watering, well that was necessary, and then inspecting and kvelling over all my beautiful plants.  The first Siberian irises were unfurling, and my one tiny peony was in full tutu.  I wandered over to the peach trees to take a stab at the dreaded task of thinning.

I don’t know much about growing peaches, but I’ve these two little trees I tenderly watch, and over the years I’ve learned a few important lessons.  Even though my greed sees all those one inch peaches and thinks, what a great big crop I’m going to get, the tree will do better, the peaches will be juicier, if I judiciously remove a large portion of them and give the others space to grow.

It’s always painful.  Am I making an error?  Am I choosing the WRONG PEACH?  But after a while, certainty grows.  The task speeds, and I feel satisfied when I’m done.

Naturally, this made me think of my own manuscript.  Naturally.

I was thinking about all the lovely scenes and “magnificent” writing  I needed to relinquish so the rest of my manuscript could breathe.  There were so many little lovelies, and over time I saw how they stole energy from each other.  So I pruned.  Even scenes I’d taken for granted as complete asked for haircuts.  The word That asked to be thrown on the compost to go back to t.h.a.t.  All to become the rich soil for next year’s garden.  Novel.

This is a small but mighty reminder.  Pruning our text, our words, makes for a better book.  We have no end of good writing in us, and these darlings are not our last chance to shine.  In the words of the tree, there’s always next year’s crop.


  1. tracey palmer

    Yes! I love the idea of thining your text to give room for your prose to breath and resonate. I will go back to this as I revise my full manuscript this month. Thanks, Louise!

  2. Stephanie Gayle

    What a lovely meditation on the sometimes painful act of manuscript cutting, Louise!
    May your novel and peach trees flourish!

  3. Rob Wilstein

    Thanks, Louise, nice way to look at it. Sometimes you might take the wrong peach out, but it’s worth it.

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