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Immortal Darlings and Why It is Okay to Kill Them

A Self-Reflection on My Writing Journey

By LalainaPublished 7 months ago 3 min read
Courtesy of Midjourney

Note: "Kill your darlings" is a popular piece of writing advice that encourages writers to be ruthless when it comes to editing their work. The idea behind this advice is that sometimes writers become so attached to a particular idea or section of their writing that they are unwilling to cut it, even if it doesn't serve the overall purpose of the piece.

Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness and Murder of Fictional Ideas

As a woman of faith, I have learned few things are sacred. Maybe it is because everything pales in comparison to a God you attribute your entire existence to. Maybe it was the years of swimming through workshops. Most likely, it was the years of crippling depression, trauma, and anxiety. Change happens. Sometimes, that's not a bad thing. I certainly did not relish the insomnia or disassociating from my body. I do not miss the struggle and the tears. I do not wish to be back to wondering if the pain will ever get better; if anything will ever be better.

Though I would have loved being published ten years ago, the truth is I was not ready. My stories have evolved since then. I missed my opportunity with those versions of my stories, but I had to take care of myself before I could create something great for the world. However, I still think of those versions. Sometimes, I cringe. Mostly, I think of those times through a lens of nostalgia and longing.

I often didn't write anything I cared about in workshops. Their obsessions with short stories and degradation of young adult novels made it difficult to carve those spaces out for myself. I wrote for assignments and to learn craft. However, it was easy to attack these stories without mercy, to revise them at the behest of my professor. They were not my darlings. My darlings were hidden away in a corner, untouched. I was stuck and so were they.

Over time, I was confronted with the realization that if I did not learn to let go of my darlings, I would never be able to move forward. Similar to how my mental illness kept me trapped as a person I didn't aspire to be, but had become comfortable with, my stories faced a similar fate. Yes, I felt sympathy for that scared little girl. I owe her a lot and she showed immense bravery. But, it was time for her and I to move forward.

Nothing ever truly dies. I liken my ideas to vampires (mostly, because my best friend is afraid of zombies and after taking care of me for over a decade, I can respect her enough to pick a different metaphor). Even if the ideas are dead and buried in my Idea Graveyard, they can always come back. This has made it easier to murder my beloved sentences and characters. Not easy, but easier.

I miss the person I was. Innocent and unrepentant of her awful choices. She had little embarrassment when it came to her works (and, trust me, she could have used a filter). But, At least she tried something. She found true solace in her writing and among the chaos, there were genuine moments of brilliance.

A true writer always has more ideas. So, maybe I don’t have to cling to my darlings so tightly. Maybe I can put them aside to evolve and find new brilliance.

To my darlings, I am sorry you had to die. But, thank you for the role you played in my journey. I hope I am reunited with at least a few of you again. I won't let your sacrifices be in vain. I promise.

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About the Creator


She/Her. Writing Center Coordinator & Professor. Novelist. 29. Proud Latina.

I'm obsessed with my cat and fantasy fiction.

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