Taking My Top Off … Or Learning How to Edit My Own Words

I’m one of those people that takes things as they are and uses them as they are intended. When something is handed to me a certain way, I tend to automatically assume that’s how it should stay.

Take this little doo-dad, for instance:

Do you recognize it? Probably. It’s the little pour/shake thing from a spice bottle. Specifically, it comes from a bottle of thyme.


How often, exactly, do you sprinkle thyme over something?

Personally, I’ve never done it. Probably never will. And yet every single flipping time I want to get my measuring spoon into that stupid bottle, I pry off that little shaker lid to get to it. Then, when I’m done, I slap the damn thing back on. Every time, it taunts me. I know it’s unnecessary. I know it’s just a useless piece of plastic that actually makes my life more difficult. I know everything would flow more smoothly if I just threw the ridiculous bit away.

And yet, every time I go to do so, I get a funny feeling in my chest. It’s this irrational pang, and I can’t seem to get past it.

I can’t just throw it away! It’s there! It must be there for a reason! I MAY NEED TO SHAKE THYME SOMEDAY.

Sounds reasonable, right?


About as reasonable as it sounds to sit here in front of my laptop, staring at a scene I know is pointless and/or repetitive and/or poorly written. It’s there! I can’t just throw it away!

Except wait. I totally can.

Last night, I took the shaker lid off my bottle of thyme. I measured out the quantity I needed. Then I took a deep, deep breath. And then another one. And then I didn’t put the shaker top back on. That’s right. I just screwed the cap back onto the naked bottle and put the now-shaker-less thing back in my spice cabinet.

I immediately felt lighter. I will never have to pry that dumb lid off again. Ever.

And that’s what happens when I delete a crappy scene, too. I feel lighter. Everything is better.

Sometimes, it’s a relief to let go of something you really don’t need.

…Especially when it involves taking your top off.


  1. I totally identified with this one. Great post that makes the ‘delete’ button a little less scary.

  2. I love this! Do you know how many years I washed my contacts one at time before I stuck them in my eyes? Now I wash them both at once. Amazing what a little re-visioning can do 🙂

    Um, I do however keep a “chapter 99” file where I put all those deleted scenes. I might neeeeeeed them someday.

  3. You have no idea how I use to think the same thing! I threw the tops out on almost all of my spices. No sprinkling for me!

    Archive is a savior, but I’m learning to rip that band aide off too. My issue is deleting email.

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