Anna Hughes

The danger of delete

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The danger of delete

On January 4, 2018, Posted by , In Eat, Sleep, Cycle,Writing, With 2 Comments

When I migrated this website to its new operating platform, I ditched a large number of my old blog posts. They were either outdated, irrelevant or simply badly written. Given that I was promoting myself as a writer, it would be foolish to put anything out that I was less than happy with. Some of the blogs were about things I still wanted to share, so I re-wrote them; one such entry was about my trip to the Lake District which kick-started the process of turning my round-Britain blog into a round-Britain book. At that stage I was a fledgling writer – I had yet to benefit from professional feedback, and I’d never been edited; I still used the word ‘less’ rather than ‘fewer’ and I had never even heard of a preposition, never mind knowing it’s a word I shouldn’t end a sentence with (haha). Now, though still the same writer, I’m more refined, with better knowledge of how to satisfy my reader and an understanding of what literary clichés are and how to avoid them.

Partway through rewriting my Lake District post, I dragged the original out of the trash. Perhaps I shouldn’t delete it. It’s an illustration of my journey, my writing development. Once I was of the mind that writers should only publish work of which they were proud; it should always be their best. And that is true, to a point. But how can I always write my best work? I am constantly developing, so does that mean that with each new article I should delete all the old ones?

The original Lake District post is truly awful. But I have published it regardless, here. It’s an interesting illustration of a writer who has yet to become so. It is very much a ‘blog’, and not even a good one at that. It lists the places I went to without giving any detail of them. One thing in its favour is that it focuses on a memorable part of my trip, the mountain biking, and describes that in detail, which is a good literary technique. But words such as ‘stunning’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘fantastic’ make me cringe – they don’t describe anything. What made it stunning? Why was it fantastic? I am ashamed that I resorted to ‘take a look at the photos if you want to see what it was really like,’ rather than trying to paint a picture with my words. I relied on the reader to do most of the work: well, of course you will know the Lake District is stunning, because it is, and because I’ve just said so, and don’t you want to see my photos? And I used the word ‘I’ a LOT. Attempts at humour worked, to a point. My mistake was trying to write something that would please everybody, and which ended up pleasing no one, not least myself. Because, yes, I write for others, but it must come from me: first and foremost, I have to like it. And it has to be personal, otherwise no one will connect. That doesn’t mean I have to bare my soul with each paragraph, or write how emotionally changed I was by each hill-struggle, but there has to be something that the reader can identify with, or relate to, even if all that is is a good description of a landscape.

The re-written version is here, and this is a piece that I actually think is good. But I am also proud to present them side by side; it is better to be open than to hide my past writing as if in shame.

Of course, not everything I write is good (not even I think so) but I am satisfied with most of my work. Some posts I think particularly deserve to be read include these:

West of Wales to East of England

In search of Thames Head

Why am I running away?

Slow Travel

and a little poem I wrote, The Kingfisher

2 Comments so far:

  1. Don says:

    Anna, thanks for sharing a story about traveling your writing path! I can relate to that journey. Just read both versions and can definitely see a difference. I gained an image of dry-stack stone walls in the second version, but seem to have lost the whooping yells of joyous terror. I would like both, please! I do appreciate all the details from the second writer, but can more easily picture myself having a pint with the first writer as we watch mud dry on a bike fame leaning against one of those stone walls. Keep going! Cheers!

    • Anna says:

      Thanks Don. Interesting – I should try and merge the two then. Best of both worlds, to want to have a beer with me as well as being able to picture where I am!

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