#ROW80 & Symboling

The so-called Portrait of a Sculptor, long bel...
The so-called Portrait of a Sculptor, believed to have been Del Sarto's self-portrait--Image via Wikipedia

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” ~ Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto

My reach last week exceeded my grasp.

I followed Tuesday’s stellar 1000 Molly words (or 921, depending on who’s counting) with 0 Molly words for the rest of the week. But I was so pleased with the 1000 that the 0 hasn’t worried me.

Anyway, I’m not going to use them. I realized, after the scene had symboled* for a couple of days, that it should be seen but not heard. Instead of setting the altercation (among three jealous thespians) inside the cafe, I’ll put it on the patio, where Molly and her cohorts can watch through the picture window.

Establishing distance between the two groups of characters creates detachment. Molly, who has already been yelled at once this morning, merely observes the battle. She doesn’t get involved, as she would be required to do if the brouhaha took place in her presence. She’s free to comment on the behavior of the egomaniacs on the other side of the glass. And comment she does. A generally restrained person, Molly is having more and more trouble curbing her tongue.

So that’s what I accomplished week: 1000 words I will not use.

Does this bother me? No. I wrote; I learned. I demonstrated to myself that less can be more.

I didn’t do so well at keeping records. I brought them up to date this evening, but they’re not complete. A daily log would have shown more writing time than the one I cobbled together from memory.

Regarding goal #3: I did not join or volunteer for anything this week. I did promise David I would dismantle the bulwark of books and papers surrounding my chair. We were having friends over tonight, and he thought we would appear more welcoming if we didn’t make them climb over my library to get to the tacos. Having spent more than two years working in tort litigation, I agreed. But picking up toys doesn’t constitute joining or volunteering.

Lest it be thought I wrote 1000 words and stopped cold, I’ll add that I put out another newsletter, approximately 6600 words, most of which were not written by me. But I did wrestle them into place. That’s worth a couple of brownie points. At least by my estimation. And since I award my own points, the say-so is mine.


*One of my freshman literature professors had a cook who claimed that soup tasted better if it was allowed to symbol for a while. The professor said she thought writing, too, was better when it was given time to symbol. I don’t remember a great deal about Beowulf, but the lesson on symboling has stayed with me for—a long time.


7 thoughts on “#ROW80 & Symboling

  1. Sometimes you write something with the idea that it fits, and then it doesn’t. I had something similar happen to me with chapter three of my WIP. Got it all written down, then realized it just wasn’t working with the story. Had to go back and re-write the whole thing, but like you said, there is always a lesson to be learned. Its better to get the initial idea written, and then you can always find ways it can be improved. Hope this next week is more fruitful for you. It can be tough to make yourself actually write every day. I know it is for me!


  2. I see this technique used in films to great effect: conversation (in your story an altercation) between characters that neither we, the viewers, nor the main character can hear. I noticed it in The Ides of March just the other day; I remember noticing it at the end of Lost in Translation. The power of words spoken but not heard… Or perhaps only overheard. I think you are onto something, Kathy.


  3. Your blog inspires me, especially that you chose to not bemoan the loss of a thousand words but instead chose to chalk it up to good experience.


  4. I admire you for being able to let go of your 1,000 words because you realize that they will ultimately not serve your story. I think that’s exactly what William Faulkner was alluding to when he said that, to be good writers, we must be willing to “kill our darlings.”

    And if it helps to know that you’re not alone, here’s some moral support:

    Happy writing!


  5. I love the word symboling, but I’ve never heard it before in my life. I am not a little captivated.
    1,000 words: writing is like music practice: steps forward, steps back, but always an underlying subconscious process it going on, surging to a final creation. It is as well to remember creations like the Danse Macabre: how long had Saint Saens laboured over manuscript when that tune popped out, perfectly formed, courtesy of a subconscious devil and a dream? We are always creating, and when the right words are ready they’ll come.

    Sheesh. I am wordy today 🙂 Apologies


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