The Writer Loses

“The wind ripped through the field, slicing blades of grass in two and lifting dandelion fluff into the air to scatter.”

Penelope sat back and laced her fingers behind her head. She read the sentence, approved it. Then she clicked away from the page, checked her email, updated her Facebook status, perused an article on introverts. Tweeted about it.

When she returned to the page, the sentence read differently. Wind doesn’t rip, she thought. That sounds stupid. Rip is an active verb, but how can something rip across a field? It should rip a direct object. She tapped at the delete key, erasing the word. A quick check of the thesaurus inspired her to insert “whipped.”

“The wind whipped through the field, slicing blades of grass in two and lifting dandelion fluff into the air to scatter.”

Better, she thought. Kind of like a tornado.

She pushed up from the kitchen chair to pour apple cider into a thick ceramic mug that said “Every writer is a reader.” After popping it in the microwave for a minute, she slurped at the liquid bumping against the lip and sat back down.

“The wind whipped through the field, slicing blades of grass in two and lifting dandelion fluff into the air to scatter.”

Maybe the grass shouldn’t be sliced in two, she thought, especially if it’s being whipped. Maybe it should rub together and make that squeaking sound. Like in the summer when you place a blade between your thumbs and blow.

“The wind whipped through the field, lifting dandelion fluff into the air to scatter. Blades of grass hummed as they rubbed against each other.”

Nope. Again, it just sounded stupid. Rubbing wasn’t right. Neither was humming. What if the grass was long? Stalk-like?

“The wind whipped through the field, bending thin whips of grass in two and lifting dandelion fluff into the air to scatter.”

Not bad. Not great. Okay for now. Terrible. God, she was never going to be a professional writer. The whole thing was awful. She had two “whips” in one sentence, and whipping didn’t even go with bending; the two verbs should be related somehow, part of a metaphor for life on the prairie. Plus, dandelion fluff doesn’t need to be lifted into the air to scatter. It should just scatter, no lifting necessary. As few words as possible. Neat and simple.

“The wind twisted through the field, snapping blades of grass in two and scattering dandelion fluff.”

An improvement, she  supposed.

The cider warmed her belly then, soothing and comforting. She took another sip, holding it in her mouth to absorb the full sweetness.

“The wind twisted through the field, snapping blades of grass in two and scattering dandelion fluff.”

She set down the mug with a clap on the table and pulled fingers through her tangled, curling hair.

No, it was horrible, she thought, grimacing at the ceiling. Who writes like this? Writing to impress always sounds like crap. But writing too simply lowers the quality, doesn’t it? How are you supposed to write cleanly with as little adverbs and adjectives as possible and still create an image with words?

It was the beast, she realized. The beast sharpening its claws on her words, sinking its pointed nails into her confidence to draw it closer. To nibble and lick. To devour.

The beast of insecurity.

It won. It always won.

She deleted the sentence and walked away.

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