Posted by: Michelle Knoll | January 7, 2012

Searching For The “Bonsai”

Okay.  Break time is over.

Tonight I open the first draft, and begin the rewrite.  I’ve ignored it for about 6 weeks, giving myself a break from the schedule of 3,000 words per day.  It was fun writing my novel, and I was elated when I wrapped up the last chapter.  However, I was also tired.  And when I’m tired, I don’t need to attempt a rewrite.

So I’m excited, and yet I’m a little nervous, too.  I mean, this is like performing surgery, you know?  I’m operating on my own baby here.  It’s a “measure twice, cut once” kind of situation.  I want to make it the best novel of all, but I’m concerned I will cut out the wrong parts, and make it less than what it is now.

Yet, every first draft must be rewritten to be great.  First drafts, in and of themselves, are pretty much junk.  Yet, the excitement of writing a novel causes a writer to have a high level of loyalty to what’s been written.  So it is with agony that I take out the scalpel and begin to edit, carve, pare, thin, do all those things that must be done.

It reminds me of how Mr. Miagi taught the Karate Kid to shape the bonsai tree.  To achieve the tree you see in your mind, you have to cut it a certain way.  Oh sure, you could just allow it to grow like every other tree, but then it wouldn’t have the personality it could have, being trimmed correctly.

It’s what the Lord does with our lives, too.  Pruning, so we can be better than we are now.  Pruning can hurt so much!  But it is so needful.  Cutting us back, here and there, and getting rid of the “suckers,” the things that diminish our hearts and our lives.  I want the Lord to work on me, pruning my life where needed, so my life can really shine for Him.  And I want my novel to really shine as well.  So, even though it’s a scary process (am I gonna do this correctly?) and it’s going to hurt to say “bye-bye” to some of the things I’ve written, I know it’s necessary.  I don’t need any “suckers” – dragging, boring sections of fluff – stealing the life from this story I’ve been blessed to write.

So, here goes, my friends.  I’m approaching my “bonsai” novel tonight, looking for its hidden beauty.  One chapter, or “branch,” at a time.

Wish me well!



  1. 3000 is a lot of words for one day…now comes the hard part

    • Yes, 3,000 words a day was quite a challenge. However, I wanted to challenge myself, push myself, just to see if I could do it. To be honest, it took me by surprise that I accomplished such a thing. And you’re right, now comes the hard part! It will take me a lot longer than 39 days to rewrite what’s been written. And that’s not discouraging at all. A little sobering, yes, but not discouraging.
      Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate it!

  2. I wish you all the best in revising your novel. I liked the bonsai approach to your post, befitting, and true.

    • Thanks! And I wish you all the best, too, as you keep working on your novel.

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