I Write, Therefore I Rewrite

 

When I was a teenager,  words freely flowed onto the page. A columnist and reporter for the county newspaper, I was writing  while other high school kids were  waiting tables and babysitting. I often thought it was strange they paid me to do something I loved, but kept the paychecks anyway.  It kept me full of Mountain Dew and my car full of gas.

When deadline was breathing down his neck, my newspaper editor would stand in front of my desk and slap his ruler on my desk in rhythm to the clattering of my IBM Selectric typewriter.

 

Mindy at Republican

“Type, Melly, type!” 

When deadline was close, there were no rules. If he didn’t have a story to fill a column, I wrote on demand. He never edited my work. I thought it was because I was so good. I was told later it was because he was a Communications major who didn’t write very well. He hired me because I could. When minimum wage was around $3.00, it was an inexpensive way to cover his lack of ability.

Sometimes he’d pull a page out of my typewriter in the middle of a sentence and run it over to the typesetter.  I’d roll in a fresh piece of paper and continue typing frantically.

As fast as I could type, the typesetter would retype, then hand the printed column to the layout woman.  She’d run it through the wax machine, cut it and  place it on the dummy, while guessing how many more paragraphs I needed to type.

Now much older and much  slower, I have a different understanding of  “good” writing. Nobody is pulling a first draft from my printer and publishing it.

I have learned the  value of rewriting.  At first it was agony.  I pour out my heart in my first draft.   I am inspired as I combine personal experience with a takeaway for the reader. Why isn’t it perfect as it is?

Because it isn’t perfect, that’s why.

Advice about rewriting comes in different story forms.

“Don’t be married to your words.”

“Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings.”

 

 

Jamboree 230

I walk away for awhile and come back in fresh mode. First I evaluate the work as a whole,  then as individual sentences and finally, as individual words. At the final point, I live and breathe through each word.

How can I say more with less words?  Can I evoke more emotion?  It is in my unique voice? Am I using clichés or my pet words?

Can I  make the reader go AHHHHH! instead of HUHHHH?

Then, I rewrite my rewrites.

The rewrites are then rewritten.

Maybe, just maybe, after many rewrites, I’ll have something worth pulling from the printer.

 

Making your home sing Mondays

 

 

 

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To learn more about rewriting:

Writers on Rewriting

Writing Tips:  Writing is Rewriting

The Editing and Rewriting Process

Rewriting is the Real Work of Writing

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13 Responses to I Write, Therefore I Rewrite

  1. k2globalcommunicationsllc March 25, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Great story, great point(s) on the dreaded Rewrite. I always have that mini-me in my head pinching my brain to ensure research is correct; facts are facts and not merely opinion; opinion is clearly identified as opinion…Whew!

    • Mindy Peltier March 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      Great advice about facts and opinions, thanks for sharing. I appreciate your insight. It also reminds me again of how much WORK writing/rewriting is….:)

  2. Dana Kolste March 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    What a fantastic story! Have you ever gone back and reread some of those old stories/articles? I have never checked any of my old college work, because I am too afraid of how awful it might be. I rarely had time to rewrite, and since I got good grades I never felt like I needed to find time. In my entire college career, I only got one critical comment, and it wasn’t until a midterm during my FINAL semester – “You could use a few more connectors between paragraphs.” I actually wish I would have gotten more pointers like that, because I thought my writing was perfect!

    • Mindy Peltier March 25, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

      Dana, I did keep a clip file and I am so thankful I did! The newspaper building burned down years ago and I think all the old publications were burned up. All I have left is what I clipped and filed.

      I also have often wished I’d had more critique and encouragement for my writing. I actually feel like I am just starting my writing education now, although I have been writing for decades. Yes, I am old enough to say decades…even if I don’t wanna’ admit that…

  3. Mindy Peltier March 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Found another great post this morning on the subject. http://nwchristianwriters.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/self-editing-tip-avoid-redundancies-by-dawn-kinzer/

  4. francisguenette March 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Definitely the rewriting is the hardest part – creativity is one thing, but then being able to hone those creative words to perfection, well – that is the work of extreme discipline. Great links on the rewriting process.

    • Mindy March 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      Thanks! Since I am experienced, but not an authority, I needed to provide some solid advice. Glad you liked them.

  5. Nan March 26, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    Melly? Where did that come from? Cute nickname though. Is your name really Melinda?

    Wow, I don’t think I could concentrate if someone was pounding a ruler right in front of me, too distracting! But what a long background of writing you have. Lots of experience. It’s much easier today isn’t it? I remember the days of carbon paper and white out after that, lol!

    Thanks for linking up to “Making Your Home Sing Monday!” today! 🙂

    • Mindy March 26, 2013 at 1:04 am #

      Yep, real name is Melinda. Changed it when I got saved at 18. I’ll write about that someday soon. That boss was the ONLY one to ever call me that and it was only because he signed my paychecks. 🙂 My Grandma calls me Mel, but I only wanted to be called that if I could spell it MELL. See, I knew even as a kid the phonetic rules should apply even to names.

  6. Tandis March 26, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    I rarely “publish” a blog the way I first write it. I get to the end and preview it only to go back and edit half of it and then edit again after another preview. =/ It’s still not great but thankfully I’m a homeschooling Mommy and we’re using an awesome grammar curriculum. Hoping that helps my issues. 🙂 Now we just need to find a curric that can help my topics and creativity. 🙂

  7. Eve Sison March 26, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    I like your style! Got you from Mom’s the Word’s Making your Home Sing Monday

    • Mindy March 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Eve. I appreciate your kind comment. Isn’t it great hanging at Mom’s the Word’s blog? That’s who I wanna’ be when I grow up.

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