When I was younger and had more free time I brewed beer. It was almost always tasty (or at least drinkable) and it was cheap. We would often have people come over and drink beer and watch the wort boil in the big pot on the stove. Sometimes we made mistakes, but usually the batch was maintained and in a month’s time we would have roughly fifty delicious beers.

One summer we decided to throw a party wherein we would offer four or five different home brews. Three of the batches turned out awful. We lost the recipe and threw in twice as much coriander as was needed in the belgian. Our imperial stout tasted like molasses and sugar with no carbonation. Our raspberry ale more closely resembled a jam than a beer.

We threw the party anyway.

Our friends came over and seemed to enjoyed the beer we knew was terrible. In fact, it was all gone the next day and a few people commented that our raspberry ale was the most delicious beer they’d had in some time. Either they were lying or we had very different tastes in ale.

I think about this party a lot, because shortly afterward life got too busy and the home brew equipment began to gather dust. It was a terrible final batch of beer.

I’ve been rewriting the first hundred or so pages of the novel in preparation for grad school, and yesterday, I deleted a chapter. It was the first chapter I’d ever written for the damn thing, and I loved it, but it needed to go.

I’ve learned that the greatest tool a writer has is his eraser.

It’s a difficult tool to master. As a young writer, I was very attached to everything I wrote. I haven’t lost that connection. I just have learned that some words are for my eyes only.  A weak sentence or character or chapter does a story an injustice. As writers, it is our job to give our characters the best platform to tell their story and often that means cutting out all of the murkiness. This can be tough because of the excruciating work that goes into putting words onto the page, but there is nothing that cannot be rewritten. In my six years of cutting, I have never regretted it. Not once.

I don’t regret serving that terrible beer at the party. It was a fun evening, and the alcohol still did its job, but I’ve learned my lesson. Sometimes it’s okay to throw something out.

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