One Writer’s Journey

July 27, 2018

When What You Write Isn’t Great, Don’t Ignore That Nagging Feeling

Honestly, you could pour me into a bucket tonight. It isn’t that I’m that relaxed.  I’m that wiped out.

As I write this on Thursday evening, I’ve just met a deadline for an outline and sample chapter.  Easy peasy mac-n-cheesy as my friend Renee says.  I write for Abdo.  I know what they want.

Usually.

This series is different from their others.  So different and new that it is new even to my editor. In fact, I’m writing the first book in the series. I’m the guinea pig . . . trend setter.  Who am I kidding?  Guinea pig.

My husband read the chapter for me and pronounced it “fine.”  But something was nagging at me.  “No.  It is not.  It kind of stinks.”  I wanted to listen to my husband.  I wanted to package it up and send it in and let me editor find the problem.

So first I did a hard copy-edit on the outline.  Then I finished the bibliography.  Finally, with the deadline hard behind, I pulled up the chapter.

Yep, still stinking.  But this time I could tell what was wrong.  I’m writing about a topic that, while important, is less familiar to me than some others.  As I wrote about it, I realized that I actually knew quite a bit but I still felt insecure.  I needed to sound like I knew what I was talking about.  Heaven save us from all that is overwritten and purple.

Instead of doing the hard copy-edit I had planned on, it was back to my computer.  Three of the four sidebars only needed minor tweaks.  The feature at the end of the chapter lost only a few words.  Working with the main body of the text, I moved phrases, cut sentences and smoothed, smoothed and smoothed some more.  By the time I was done I had bumped up the reading level, which I needed to do, and crafted a much more coherent, readable piece.

When you have that nagging feeling that something stinks, don’t take the easy way out.  Go on a hunt until you find the source of the problem.

–SueBE

 

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