May 2, 2008

The Diaper in My Writing

By Rebecca Talley

People say there's only two things you have to do for sure: die and pay taxes. I'd like to respectfully disagree with "people" and add one more thing: laundry. No matter what else happens, there's always another load of dirty clothes. In fact, the only thing that multiplies and replenishes the earth faster than I do, is my laundry.

While I was transferring the wash load to the dryer today, I noticed an unwelcome item in the laundry--a disposable diaper. "Eeww," I thought, "how did that get in there?" Upon further reflection, I realized that as I scooped up the dirty clothes, I must have also snagged a diaper. In my rush to send the load through, I didn't take the time to carefully check it. My mistake.

I then wondered how many diapers I've thrown in with my writing. Do I take enough time to carefully root out all of the unwanted items from my prose? Do I search through my writing to make sure it only contains what should actually be there?

I'm afraid I probably have more diapers than I'd like. Sometimes, I rush to get through a scene or a chapter and don't think it all through. Other times, I can't "see" the diapers because I'm too close to what I've written. Just as a diaper can be stinky, so is writing that has too many -ly adverbs, telling instead of showing, or flat, cardboard characters.

I'm going to take a little more time from now on to make sure I throw the diapers out before starting my wash load and, hopefully, it will all come out nice and clean.


  1. What a great analogy, Rebecca. And great advice, too!

  2. Excellent point. Something we have to continuely work on here at the magazine.

  3. I had to laugh when I read your post. It brought back so many memories. Just a while back our oldest daughter showed me a library book that shared a similar fate...going through the wash. Evidently a child had fallen asleep reading and when Mom stripped the bedding, she didn't notice the book...oops! A lot more sanitary than a diaper to be sure, but another example of what happens when we don't stop and pay attention! Thanks for the great analogy, Rebecca!


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