Gleaning (November Harvest Theme) by Bob Krech

Our family owns a share in a local organic farm. From May through the end of November we go out there once a week on our designated day and pick up (or literally, pick) our share. The vegetables are great and I've learned a lot about some veggies I'd never heard of before, as well as how to cook them.

I think my favorite part of this process (besides eating) is when they open up the farm at the end of the season for gleaning. During that final week, all the share holders are allowed to go out into the fields and basically pick up whatever is left. As much as you want. It is mostly root vegetables like carrots, daikon, rutabaga, and kohlrabi. A lot of them are small, misshapen, or imperfect in various ways. This is a lot of fun, especially with kids.

One of the things I've ended up doing in my writing reminds me a little of gleaning. My natural tendency is to overwrite. I'm not a big talker, but I guess I'm a "big writer." The first time I showed one of my YA novels to an editor, he told me I would need to lose about 100 pages! That gives you some idea.

I still overwrite, but now of course I go back over the manuscript and cut and cut and cut. Some of the cuts, I just delete. But some I save. Sometimes whole scenes or even pages. Some of those pieces took a long time to craft and they're not bad, they just aren't propelling the story forward enough to keep in there. Sometimes they contain a description I like or some dialogue or an idea, that may be useful in the future.

I tend to cut these pieces and paste them at the back of the manuscript in case I need to put them back. After the manuscript is final though, I will eventually put them in a file marked "Deleted scenes from xxx" and leave them in the desktop equivalent of the attic for future use. On a few occasions I have actually gone back and gleaned a few bits and pieces and given them new life.

I thought I was the only one who did this until recently when on a freelance job I was reviewing a draft of a television script, and lo and behold there at the end of the script were some snippets the writer had cut and pasted and I guess had inadvertently left there. It made me smile to see it wasn't just me with this little habit. Anybody else out there do this kind of thing? Fellow gleaners?


  1. Thanks. Glad to hear I'm not alone!

  2. So true. Cutting is every bit as important as putting words on the page...

  3. I have that same kind of gleanings file, but I have to say that I've never yet gathered anything from it for actual future use. But it's so comforting, as I delete it, to think that I might.


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