A few days ago, INTERN wandered into a blood drive and signed up on a whim. The day was young; the cookies looked good; INTERN had nothing better to do.
The phlebotomist was a sandy-haired Viking in a long white coat who entertained INTERN with phlebotomy fun facts as he set her up on a rolling table and installed the needle. However, things got less fun from there.
Once the needle was in, INTERN lay on the table for what seemed like forever. Her arm ached like hell. Her blood dawdled out sluggishly. The lights on the ceiling buzzed. The phlebotomist wandered away to gossip with the Red Cross volunteer at the sign-in table. But INTERN's spirits were held aloft by the idea that all this discomfort was for the greater good.
When the phlebotomist came back from chatting up the sign-in volunteer, he unceremoniously yanked the needle out of INTERN's arm.
"What happens now?" said INTERN. "Is my blood going into the blood bank?"
"Nope," said the Viking, tossing INTERN's bag of blood aside like a loaf of moldy bread.
"What do you mean 'nope'?"
"We can't use it. Too thick. Next time, drink more water before you come in."
INTERN couldn't believe her ears. After all this waiting...all this aching...
"So what happens to blood you can't use?"
"We throw it out."
"YOU'RE THROWING OUT MY BLOOD???"
This was an outrage! This was unbelievable! Nobody throws out INTERN's blood! Especially not after making her lie on some table for an hour and a half!
INTERN's facial expression communicated as much, whereupon the Viking handed her a Star Wars band-aid and let her in on a little secret.
"Don't worry, lady. You'll make more."
Editors have been saying the same thing to writers from time immemorial.
When INTERN feels reluctant, indignant, rageful or wistful about cutting yet another scene from yet another draft of a WIP, she tries to remember that words are to writers as blood is to...well, everyone: We make more. That's just what we do.
Even though it's hard to see your blood thrown on the stink barge, it's good to know there's more where that came from. And if you drink more water this time, it might even end up in the bank.