“Kill all your little darlings”

When William Faulkner said this, he wasn’t so much speaking of infanticide so much as striking out that one line or sentence that’s so well crafted that it stands out from the rest of the paragraph, which in turn destroys the paragraph. It can be extremely difficult to do, even being aware of it, because after all, it’s usually that one line that reassures a tormented writer that all the time and/or schooling in writing hasn’t been in vain, and perhaps one should be looking at a career in the custodial arts instead.

There are parallels of the rule in poetry and painting too. Yesterday I discovered this really nice little area in a painting I’ve been working on, and instead of killing it instantly, I changed the rest of the picture to accommodate this one area, effectively turning the overall picture into another image that I’m not at all pleased with.

Painting is not confined to acts of creation, but equally aligned with acts of destruction–whether on the canvas or en route to the waste bin.


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