Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Kill All Your Darlings"

All day I've continued to ponder what I wrote last night about how I have gotten caught up in Battlestar Anglicana. Today Jim Naughton is doing a very brave thing (about which I'll write soon); but he decided he had better "turn comment moderation on," because of the flak he expects to be flying. Recognizing that tempers or feelings may run high, he encourages people to exercise civility:

If I can make one recommendation that may help keep the conversation lively, but civil, it is the advice that Ernest Hemingway gave young writers about the editing process: "Kill all your darlings." If you think you've gotten off a particularly witty retort; said something in a marvelously sharp-edged sort of way; absolutely decimated your debating partner, etc., take that language out. That kind of writing tends to appeal to the hometown fans on any blog, but playing to the crowd, rallying the faithful, firing back at the commenters on another blog (while necessary at times) isn't what this exchange is for.
In this "run-up to Anglican war," most of us have spoken intemperately. God knows, I have previewed some of my blog postings or my comments on other blogs, and thought to myself, "Yeah, that's tellin' 'em!" And, like you, I've read plenty of comments from the "other side" that I know were written in exactly the same "smite 'em" tone.

Jim's words are wise . . . and not applicable merely to the item he's posted today on his blog . . . if we want to step away from a holocaust in our Episcopal Church.

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