“Read over your compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” – Samuel Johnson
Most of what I write never gets published anywhere. Most of it gets deleted, gone forever.
But sometimes I will like a passage a bit too much, and so I will kill it, but stick it in a drawer, to savor later.
I nearly never open that drawer.
Here is something I wrote a while back and just discovered. I don’t remember the context, or the project I was writing it for.
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I am a redneck.
I grew up in the hills of North Mississippi, a land not quite fit for cotton or soybeans, although both were grown in a middling sort of way. Our neighbors were dairy farmers who grew corn for feed.
My family is working stock. My mother took kids in for money, and my father worked all of my childhood as a serviceman for the propane company.
I remember wearing second-hand clothes to school, and remember the pain of the bullying I got from the “town” kids because my clothes were not the latest fashion. I am the only person in my line to attend college, and did not even consider it until my senior year of high school.
When I am comfortable with you, I will slip into non-standard English, complete with y’alls, peckerwoods and am then more apt to say I am “studyin” something than I am to be thinking about it.
It is a complex fate to be a child of the Southland. The elderly people who loved me, who taught me about the love of Jesus and what it means to be in community, also taught me the words “n**ger” and “coon”.
The small library in the town 7 miles away filled my hours with adventure and excitement. It was there I discovered dinosaurs, knights and chivalry.
It was also there I was told books about witches, earth religions and atheism were not allowed in the library, and so were unavailable to me.
It felt much less magical after that.