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Friday, December 18, 2009

Kill your darlings

Usually you have a contest and a winner is born, but every once in a while it happens the other way around; you have a winner and a contest is born.

This happened to me last night while I was sitting innocently on my bed reading a Christmas letter from some dude who married one of my old friends. I found a winner and I was suddenly struck by a brilliant idea to host the first annual Crash Test Dummy kill your darlings Christmas Letter Contest.

(May I not be struck by lightening too, bless my heart.)

Kill your darlings is a well known phrase among creative writers because sometimes writers get so caught up in crafting beautiful sentences that they lose sight of the point they are trying to make. The descriptions may be fabulous, but are they relevant? It's a question every writer must wrestle with. Sometimes when you're feverishly writing you forget who your audience is, or your format, or your occasion because you get so attached to your own words. As a writer your words are your darlings, and yet, there are times when, no matter how painful, you have to kick your darlings to the curb because they're just not working for you.

In some cases they may even be working against you.

So, without further ado, I'd like to read aloud to you the winning passage from my first annual Crash Test Dummy Kill Your Darling's Christmas Letter Contest.

Disclaimer: Any similarities to persons living or dead is purely intentional. This passage comes from an actual Christmas letter, written by an actual person, who I believe was actually severely doped up on Robintussin DM.

Drumroll, please . . .

"I could feel the flu or cold creeping up on me this past Tuesday (Nov. 3) [It's nice to have an exact account of how many days left there were to edit this darling before it was signed, sealed and delivered.] It attacked me during the evening, and I've been wiped out ever since. My wife came down with the bug 2 days earlier on Sunday. Being the good husband, I've followed her example and we have both been down for most of the week. There is now just a cough lingering--perhaps lingering is not the best word to use, lingering implies that it's just kind of there, you notice or feel it's presence, but you don't really see it. For me, I have coughed so much that my whole abdominal wall tightens in painful readiness whenever a cough begins to gather its strength to make a quick retreat. When I start coughing, I can feel the outline of every abdominal muscle as it strains against the 8,000 lb pressure produced by my coughing fits. I say I can feel the outline of every abdominal muscle, but don't get too excited, [Why not, this is exciting stuff, darnit!] I can't see every muscle. In order to see the outline of each muscle would require going below about 3 solid inches of insulated fat molecules that make quite a nice round, me."


Congratulations to this year's winner! He will receive a gold-plated exacto knife, a years supply of white out, and a case of pink pearl erasers.

21 comments:

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

I don't beleive you. You had to have made this up. Seriously. Who would want to know so much detail about anyone's illness. Thank goodness he didn't have the stomach flu. Way too much TMI.

Merry Christmas.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Honesty, I am flattered that you think I could come up with something so preposterous, but I pinky promise this is not a figment of my imagination. I have evidence and I'm willing to scan it. lol

Jami said...

Scan it, pleeeeeeease! That is glorious and beautiful--perfect for the holiday season.

Homer and Queen said...

I was seriously getting all teary eyes thinking you were giving me the green light to kill my darlings!! Oh well, burning all the Christmas letters will have to do.

That was so funny it made my abdominal walls hurt!

Are you coming to the Vegas Bowl?

Jillybean said...

Wow.

I guess you should be happy that he didn't go into that much detail describing the rest of the year.

Or that he didn't have a case of diarrhea to go with his nasty cold.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

hee hee Jilly bean. And Queenie too about making your abdominal walls hurt. Could you see them though? How many inches of fat molecules are covering them? lol

I know the answer is none because I've seen you in person.

Jami, do you want me to scan it because you don't believe me or because you want to see it in person? I had to use pronouns in place of the proper names you know. I'd hate to get struck by lightening. But I will scan it if you want me to. And email it straight to you. ;) You're welcome.

Jami said...

Because I want to see it in person of course! Inquiring minds need to see!

Barbaloot said...

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm always thrilled to read the disease-ridden details of peoples' lives.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

hee hee Barb. Amen!

And Jami, I just emailed you the scan! hee hee What say you. Can you act as a witness to the rest of my peeps that I did not forge the truth. (this time).

CaJoh said...

Oh my… every abdominal muscle of mine just about gave me a hernia as I was laughing the whole time.

Thank you for the exercise (both mentally and physically) and congratulations to this person who so vividly described how they were feeling in (of all things) a Christmas Letter.

Tiffany said...

That is the most thought out well written christmas card I have ever heard. who cares about what the kids have been up to, just tell me about your non-lingering cough.

Kris said...

I needed the laugh! I have an aunt who could win for TMI with details of her hubby's prostate health and the impact it is having in their lives. Who wants to know that about anyone? I do have to say she was direct and to the point, just too graphic for me.

word verify duche?

Jami said...

I bear my testimony that I have seen said Christmas letter. And what a sight it was. His poor wife.

Kritta22 said...

Seriously, is this a Christmas letter? Like stuffed inside a card with a picture of the kids??

Kritta22 said...

You are a better person than I to read the whole thing. I would have scanned this bad boy!

April said...

WTH! I wrote a comment and it disappeared! and it even had the BEST wv with it ever! "wined"...the universe whilst struggling to balance itself amidst its fight with global warming (cough, cough) has failed to find balance, especially a balance in posting all comments in Crash's comment box, hence producing some "whining" amongst her commenters, along with some sore abdominal muscles.

Mariko said...

What a crackup.
This is exactly what I want to read when I open up Christmas newsletters.

I can't decide if I'm against Christmas newsletters because I'm too lazy to write them or if I actually just hate them as a genre.
Either way I'm totally snooty about those darling killers (yes, you should read that 2 ways, because I do.).

Youngblood4ever said...

Oh My! I've missed you Crash! AND- seriously? Who would have thought this was important stuff to add to a Christmas Letter? Now I know what I have been doing wrong. THANKS! :)

DeNae said...

...and to think this was copied and sent to all of their loved ones. I'm beginning to suspect perhaps they don't love you as much as you think they do.

(I assume you read it wearing a surgical mask and latex gloves?)

Sandi said...

Hi girls!!!

Tiffany said...

"Sometimes Christmas doesn't come from a store." That letter is priceless. Congratulations to the winner!