Emperor Joseph II: My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes. That’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.
Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
~ Peter Shaffer, Amadeus
I recently decided that my posts on this blog are too long, and that I am spending too much time on them. It’s said that overly long posts bore everyone to tears. Is this true? It must be, if it is being said.
And if it’s true, I’m not interested (or at least should not be) in writing them. So I made a resolution to keep my posts under 1000 words. Then I started writing about a movie I’d just gone to see.
Very discouraging. Not only was my draft far too long, it was a mess. The spelling was good and the sentences were grammatically correct, but the whole thing just felt out of alignment with itself.
So before I posted, I interrupted my wife while she was watching television and asked her to read it. My wife never reads this stuff unless I ask. When I ask, it’s only because I feel I’m about to make a mistake. She usually understands that if I’m asking, I must be in trouble, and that her job is to confirm whether I’m about to make a mistake, and to tell me not to make it.
I took the dog for a walk while she read it. When I came back, she was back in front of the television again. She said the beginning had hooked her, the middle had lost her, and she probably would have stopped reading if she weren’t my wife.
Ironic, because I was writing about why I’d walked out on the movie.
So I didn’t post it.
This post was originally 470 words. I slashed it down to 341. I puffed it back up to 405. I cut back to 389.
I piddled some more, then clicked publish. At 405 again.
What am I going to do with that other batch of 1,500 words, though? They’re perfectly good words. The problem was in how I used them.