The name of this site—”swell and cut”—is based on a drafting process mentioned in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Tengo, the protagonist, is described as using an alternating process of adding and taking away from a manuscript, over and over, until the substance and style matches his expectations. The full excerpt:
“Once he had filled out this first block of text, Tengo’s next task was to eliminate from his bloated manuscript everything that was not strictly necessary, to remove every extra bit of fat. Subtraction was a far simpler process than addition, and it reduced the volume of his text by some thirty percent. It was a kind of mind game. He would set a certain time period for expanding the text as much as possible, then set a certain time period for reducing the text as much as possible. As he alternated tenaciously between the two processes, the swings between them gradually shrank in size, until the volume of text naturally settled down where it belonged, arriving at a point where it could neither be expanded nor reduced. He excised any hint of ego, shook off all extraneous embellishments, and sent all transparent signs of imposed logic into the back room. Tengo had a gift for such work. He was a born technician, possessing both the intense concentration of a bird sailing through the air in search of prey and the patience of a donkey hauling water, playing always by the rules of the game.”
As a process, “swell and cut” applies beautifully to writing and equally effectively to how we build our existence. A constant addition and subtraction; a never-ending dance of disruption and harmonisation. Thus, I thought it a fitting name for this blog, where I explore interesting questions and answers.
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