The First Paper Part Three: Cutting Room

Film Editing

Hello bloggers!

If you've been following along this week, we've been tracking the progress of a young seminary student and the writing of his first paper in a very long time. Previously on Lost, err...The First Paper, we saw that our hero had escaped the clutches of the self-loathing period of writing a paper, and had experience his lightbulb moment. However, the lightbulb led to an unintended consequence: The 5 page paper was 6 pages long.

Our hero took some time off from the paper, to clear his head and try to focus on this morning, when he would have to decide what would stay and what would go in the paper. During the self-loathing period, this would have been easy. Just cut all of it. But now, now that the writer has formed an emotional attachment to the writing he's done, he hardly wants to leave any of it behind.

And so, sitting at the Caribou Coffee in my old neighborhood, I meticulously scanned the paper for pieces to remove. Does this argument make sense? Does this do a good enough job of coloring in the arguments I'm trying to make, or would a shorter quote do better? I spent a half an hour on the first pass, felt really good about what had been removed, and then glanced down with excitement to see that I still had 6 pages. Well, maybe closer to 5.75. But still, too much to turn in. And so I went back again. And then went back again. And then a fourth time. Finally, the paper weighed in at 5 pages.

These are the moments when you appreciate starting the paper as early as you did, because now I have sent to paper to my editor (read: Sarah) to look at the grammar and spelling and punctuation. But my eyes are off the paper for at least another 24 hours. A clear head is best when writing a paper like this, and when you're up against a deadline you don't have the luxury to take this kind of time with the writing process. I still have the original, unabridged version of the paper on my desktop, just in case I left something all too critical on the cutting room floor. But at the moment, I'm feeling really good about this guy.

More to come tomorrow!