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.