Just across the road from where I live, there’s a piece of woodland where I often walk. This morning, when I reached the stile, I found warning notices that tree-felling was in progress, to clear diseased trees.
I was shocked when I saw the extent of the devastation, a long section of beautiful woodland around the path reduced to an ugly scar.
Something about the angle of the felled tree trunks reminded me of the Tower card in tarot, and that made me feel better.
The card traditionally shows a tower being burned, destroyed or blown apart, with figures tumbling from the top. Angeles Arrien, my favourite tarot commentator, says, ‘Because this card looks so violent, it has often been misinterpreted.’ She says the Tower is actually ‘the universal principle of healing, renovation and restoration.’
I’ve been experiencing the Tower lately in my writing, with a story I wrote and submitted over a decade ago. Back then, it went as far as acquisitions with several publishers and was only rejected on grounds that they had already taken on new books on similar themes.
So coming back to it, I knew the book was of publishable standard, and I wasn’t planning to do anything radical, just prepare the text for kindle. But on re-reading, I had a strong sense that I could write the whole thing better now, after this long delay of time.
I copied the file and started chopping out the dead wood and carving up the action; then I started all over again, strengthening the voice, deepening the characters and restructuring the plot.
For a while, I wondered whether I was actually just destroying a perfectly good story, but what’s grown from the wreckage is a far fresher, stronger and more satisfying novel.
Hopefully the woodland near my house will soon begin its own regeneration.
Have you ever had to ‘kill your darlings’ as a writer? Or been through a Tower time, when things have fallen apart but ultimately made way for something better?