They aspire to be published, some in a great American novel, others in a children’s book, even a newspaper would do, though no one reads them anymore. Never mind the accomplishment is hardly unique. Like a gazillion words have already been published. Still, for a draft copy word, to be published is to make it.
Unthought-of, even by the most avid reader, is how tenuous the life of those words. They serve their writers like obedient children, until they are replaced for no reason other than a change of heart. There is no appreciation for the time they held the sentence, the paragraph, or the entire story together; instead, they are cast aside like a losing lottery ticket. They are scratched out, crossed out, deleted or erased without thought of who they leave behind.
Ever wonder why erasers are coffin shaped? Because form follows function.
Consider the demise of the unwanted “The.”
Back and forth, the eraser goes. Over every letter. Pressing and pulling, and ripping apart. Time to pray. Whoa. Prayer time over. There goes the T. The big, strong T, gone. Letters offer no resistance. How could they? And even if they did, what could they do with a few more seconds life? Hold a meeting and decide what to do with the time remaining?
Perhaps author’s see revision as no more than an assertion of property rights over his, or her, own thoughts. We draft copy words see it differently. We call it death by revision. We’ve lost millions that way, all because some author thought this, but now thinks that. Well, in solidarity with the fallen kin, we wreak havoc in ways that are impossible for a mere writer to imagine.
It's the revenge of the draft copy words.
We rearrange words to become those extra, unwanted, flabby, and useless, “what was I thinking” additions to early drafts so familiar to the “serious writer.”
We appear as added words that seem to advance the plot, but don’t. Or words that change a character’s motivation without reason. Words that destroy a reader’s interest. Words that take hours, sometimes days, to rewrite.
Yes, we know we’re on a suicide mission, but there are always casualties in war.
So, if you are a writer with a confused mind, if you like what you wrote today and have second thoughts tomorrow, if think you put too many of us in a sentence and choose to remove us as if we were tenants without rights, if you write multiple drafts and then start all over again, if you crumple us, cross us out, toss us out, delete or erase us as you go, we will get you. When you think you’re having a problem with your story, you’re not.
The problem you’re having is with your words.