PURIFYING MY PROSE -- by Jane Kelley

I think the Roman God Februus must have been an editor.

I'm not talking about my actual editors. They've always been kind and generous. This guy represents the one inside me. The stern task master who is pointing out yet another misguided word, or sentence, or paragraph -- or entire chapter. 

According to Ovid, the ancestors believed that every sin and cause of evil could be erased by performing rites of purification in February. Most of my sins are found within the pages I'm writing. Let's hope Ovid is right.

What is demanded of me?

Cleaning -- This is needed on so many levels! First I must get rid of clutter. Throw away that scene where the Protagonist gets bullied. That adds nothing to the story. Wash away each trope and repetition. Scrub away the dirt of dull descriptions. 

Salting -- (I had to look up what this meant.) Long before the time of Ovid's ancestors, salt was used to draw out the impurities. Much like how my mother told me to gargle with salt water when I had a sore throat. I need to get rid of those labels that shouldn't be used. Those poisonous thoughts––when one character is unnecessarily cruel to another or to themself.

Cutting a branch from a pure tree to wreath the priests' holy brows -- Well, I don't know whether I can find a priest with a holy brow. But I can come up with fresh, new ideas. I can cut the branch without killing the tree. I'm going to need it to keep supplying new ideas in the months to come.

According to Ovid, when February comes, the days devoted to the dead are over. Forget about those darlings you have killed. My current WIP has filled cemeteries. Don't mourn those who have been left behind. Look to the future.

I have forgotten to mention one thing I must do. Burning. Not in a destructive way. Light a fire to get rid of dead wood and debris. To provide the right amount of heat and light. To keep the passion that writing demands. 

JANE KELLEY is a novelist, a fire builder, and a cleaner (more often of her writing than her house).


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