Monday, May 20

Tale of the Cottonwoods

    The other Word Wranglers come up with the best analogies. I’ll read their posts—especially D’Ann’s—and I’ll wonder where she can possibly go with that. And boom, there it is again. Crap, I’ll think, why can’t I come up with things like that.
          So this morning I’m sitting here trying to come up with something good. Or at least something readable. Maybe even an analogy! And I’m looking out my office window at the hummingbirds on the feeder, bigger birds lifting and dropping on the breeze. The trees—we have cottonwoods, maples, and a couple of pine trees. A flowering plum I can’t see anymore through the ash tree we planted the year our oldest granddaughter was born. Up on the rise in the front yard, a sweet gum tree.
I love trees.
We’ve had some storms in the past year. Strong ones where the wind took down big limbs. We’ve even lost some of my favorite trees, including the weeping willow we planted without looking up—right underneath the power lines.
With regard to safety, we had a couple of the cottonwoods trimmed way back. One because of the fear it might land in our bed one dark and stormy night (if you’ve ever seen an 80-year-old cottonwood, you know there’s no room) and the other to hopefully save its life after huge limbs were torn away in the storms.
The trees looked awful after their barbering. Dark and gloomy and skeletal. “What have we done?” I said, all but wringing my hands.
“What we had to,” Duane answered. “They look bad, don’t they?”
Oh, yes, bad.
But with spring came green leaves and new branches and the cottonwoods are…well, they’re not like they were. But they’re beautiful. They’re healthy. They’re safer.
They’re better.
The next time I am asked to make revisions that make me whine and wail and swear they’ll ruin the story, I will remember the cottonwood trees. Or at least I’ll try to—I don’t really have this analogy thing down very well yet.
Have a great week!


  1. That's a VERY good analogy! While in the editing process, we ruthlessly cut unnecessary words, phrases, and sometimes complete scenes, making our beautiful, shiny MS marked up with red and blue track changes, feeling like it's been chopped to shreds, just like the branches of a newly-trimmed tree. I used to feel the same way whenever the power company would have to trim our pussy willow tree every other year or so. But then it would bloom and be beautiful again!

  2. I think you've got this analogy down pat, Liz! And you're right - just like with trees, pruning back our writing will make our characters, plots and books so much stronger.

  3. SUPER analogy, Liz!

    Completely true, too.

  4. Great analogy! It's hard sometimes to trim words, paragraphs and even chapters but our books are better for it.

    Have a great day,

    Cheryl G

  5. Great analogy. It reminds me of life. Sometimes we have to cut away the sick or damaged parts to get to the beauty underneath and a chance for new growth. On a different topic, right now I am reading A Soft Place to Fall. I'm not done yet but I am loving it. Thanks for sharing your voice and your talent with all of us.

  6. Great analogy Liz! And a very good point!

  7. Great analogy, but if you'd seen how overgrown my yard is, you'd see your message is lost with me :)

    Fortunately I tend to underwrite more than overwrite. At least that's what I keep telling myself even if I have a 50K folder of Bix Bits that got cut out along the way...

  8. Thanks, everybody, for stopping by.

    @Carolyn, I hope you like A Soft Place to Fall--that was definitely new growth for me!

    @Margie, I used to underwrite, I think, but not so much anymore.

  9. Beautifully stated, Liz. I'll keepbthis blog in mind every time I revise!

  10. Great analogy, Liz, not just for writing, but also for life. Interesting that you talked about your old trees--I'm working on my old story. The very first one I ever had the courage to send out. My agent signed me on the first version. She wouldn't recognize it now...but I had to trim back to bring the book into a healthy state and make it stronger...

  11. LOL. I just found a hard copy (the only kind I have) of my very first story. It's about 18 years old and I'm really afraid to read back over it!