Kintsukuroi of the Written Word

Kintsukutoi, also known as Kintsugi, is a Japanese art; it takes a broken pottery item and repairs it with gold, silver or platinum lacquers to create something more beautiful than the original. Japanese æsthetics value the marks of wear and tear caused by the use of an object and is equivalent to what we call the ‘patina’ of an antique in Western Culture. It reflects the philosophy of accepting change and accepting flaws, that perfection is an unobtainable shadow concept.

This isn’t a bad philosophy to bring to the editing process. You might be breaking apart your work, smashing it into shards. However, you are putting it back together to create something more beautiful. I believe that the term ‘killing your darlings’ is very negative way of referring to editing. Instead, we should look at editing as a form of kintsukuroi, in that a writer is making a story sing by repairing what is wrong with its narrative.

Editing is a positive process, and is just as important as writing the story. There are some lucky individuals whose first draft is also their last draft, but most writers need to edit. I actually have learnt to enjoy my editing process, because I see it as improving and polishing. Putting a positive spin on it might work for you as well.

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9 Comments

Filed under Art, Bling, Editing, Fashion, Kintsukuroi, Steampunk Aesthetic, Uncategorized, writing

9 responses to “Kintsukuroi of the Written Word

  1. Good concept! I like it, and (for the first time in my entire life as a writer (well, the 2nd time. Robert McKee gave the the best tool ever!), I’m going to take some advice and re-frame what I’m doing.
    Editing, revising, and polishing are concepts that came late to my career.

    You’d also be interested, I’m sure, in the Japanese concept of ‘Wabi-sabi’. Closely related to kintsukuroi.

  2. I love the idea behind kintsukuroi (although I admit that I can never remember the Japanese word for it). I often think of editing like sanding down a piece of wood–taking a crudely formed piece and removing the rough spots until you get to something that feels right. Very much like Michelangelo removing all the parts of the marble that aren’t a piece of the final sculpture. It’s not a perfect metaphor–sometime you are not the best person to judge if the sanding is complete, and sometimes you do need some major rearrangements, or even starting over.

    • Like writing, I think everyone has their own editing process. I use the word ‘polishing’ instead of ‘sanding’, but they mean exactly the same thing when editing. I’m a ‘Hulk SMASH’ during the second editing phase.

  3. This is a wonderful simile with gorgeous pics.

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