Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Choosing Favorites

Recently, a gardening survey asked me to name my favorite plant. That’s difficult because I think hard about all my garden purchases. Between the shady conditions in my yard and the abundant local fauna, very few plants survive here. I considered naming something brief and showy like a stargazer lily, or something romantic and rambling like deep purple clematis. Perhaps my favorite plants are the reliable foundations of my flowerbeds, like fairy roses, that produce pale pink blooms all summer while their brighter companions have a moment of glory then fade. The appearance of many plants is enhanced by what is growing next to them.

A few days later, I found an online form that asked writers to post their favorite sentence in their manuscripts. Every sentence in my manuscript has faced numerous revisions. Only the necessary survive. Should I choose a straightforward hook or a poetic enticement? Some sentences provide necessary structure. Every sentence relies on the ones around it.

In the end, I took different approaches. For the garden survey, I chose a reliable steady-bloomer, and for the literary questionnaire, I used a poetic enticement. Perhaps I would make different decisions if asked again. 


Vicky Lorencen said...

Beautiful analogy and so well said!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks, Vicky. The garden survey also asked for my least favorite plant. That's easy - poison ivy.

Wyman Stewart said...

Because it is the closet thing I know in nature to an "Irresistible force" and is persistent as any writer I've heard of, the common weed forces me to name it, my favorite plant. The common weed has outlasted all other plants in my yard, while showing disdain, for my years of hatred toward it. Thus, it has willed itself on me, as my favorite plant, turning hate to love and admiration, for indeed, here is a plant that returns year after year, survives drought, and every attempt to kill it. All other plants pale beside it (usually being choked to death). Yes, the common weed is my favorite plant. (I surrendered to it, long ago.)

My favorite line from anything I have ever written (or read) is not an original line, yet is the most venerable line in literature: "The End." A more complete and succinct line has never been uttered.

No, neither of those required hours of deep introspection to arrive at my choices. Sorry. "Weed me up with the read-eater, Scottie."

Ann Finkelstein said...

Weeds are very popular in my yard too, Wyman. I never even type, The End when I finish the first draft because revision is just beginning.

Wyman Stewart said...

Maybe Revision is why I never liked The Carpenters song, "We've Only Just Begun." My writer subconscious couldn't handle the thought that writing and life "must" include revision to get both stories as right as possible.

Thankfully, short stories can end with The End.

Must research, who first used "The End" to close a written tale. Must have been a powerful hint from writer to Publisher, there would be no more REVISION. ;-)