Honest Harvest by Deborah Lytton

When I think of harvesting, I think of retaining the healthy crop and leaving behind the weeds.  The hardest part of harvesting as a writer is knowing what part of our work is worth keeping and what part needs to be left behind.  I like to work with paper and pen. I know I am old-fashioned, but there is something about scribbling my ideas on paper that allows me more freedom than when I see them in print on a screen in front of me.  I guess I am willing to be imperfect with my pen.  I can scratch things out and rip out pages, happily crumpling them and sometimes even throwing them across the room.  On the computer, I am always afraid to delete something, so I end up saving file after file of drafts.  I tend to scribble my ideas on paper and then type them up, allowing for a revision in the process.  This way, I can only keep the best part of the crop and leave behind the weeds.  But what happens when the whole manuscript is a weed?  This week, I am asking myself that very question.  I am working on a new manuscript, and I am 80 plus pages into my first draft.  But it's just not working.  It's not as good as it could be.  The truth is that it isn't a crop worth harvesting.  So as difficult as it is, I have decided to (gasp) start over.  This is the biggest challenge of all writers, I think.  Knowing when you are not producing your best work, and being honest enough with yourself to leave it behind.  I hope all of your work today is worth harvesting--and as soon as I post this blog, I am going to grab my pen and paper and create some work of my own worth harvesting. 


  1. Ah yes! I know the feeling. And I know that being honest with myself can be hard, especially when I've put so much effort into a manuscript. Good luck!

  2. I'm with you on the pen and paper, Deborah. Powerful tools...

  3. I[m a pen-and-paper girl, too. And as for that draft you threw away, I think of my friend who likens such drafts to the brown water that has to come out of the faucet before the water can run clear.


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