Wednesday, July 30, 2014


My newspaper column is due Wednesday. I wrote the first draft Monday but I always like to let it stew for a day or two so that all the adjectives, verbs, nouns and pronouns have an opportunity to blend together like a good vegetable soup. 

This morning I took my coffee out to the screen porch to finish the second draft. A cool front moved in overnight. It was so chilly I had to step back inside and flip off the overhead ceiling fan. When I settled in, I noticed steam from my coffee drifted up like incense smoke. 

Often when I edit the second draft, I find words and phrases that fit like a cheap leisure suit. 

I've read that most people who write fiction do something similar. The first draft is for putting ideas on paper. If you fret too much on details you lose momentum, and get out of step with your butterfly-if-ic (is that a word?) muse. Best to get it down while it's fresh, no matter how sloppy it seems.

After the first draft, you take your editors knife for the second draft and whittle off the fat, tired, lonely words. What's left is a piece that hopefully is lean, stronger and punches the reader right in the gut.

When I'm completely satisfied is when I let my editor (Jilda) have a look.  She often points out faux pas that are so goofy they make me snort coffee out my nose. It's hard editing your own work.

Writing is tricky business. You have to find what process works for you and stick with it. My process involves tapping a lot of keys, listening to birds, and swilling coffee. Don't you want to write for a living :)


  1. For my posts, I usually don't do a second draft. I fuss and muss so much over the first draft that it's some what like second or third draft. On the occasions when I do a first draft, leave it a while and then go back to it, I always find things to change. I'm sure I'm too impatient most of the time and would probably do a better job by "letting it stew". And, yes, I'd love to write for a living. What a great job that would be! Another good post by you that I enjoyed very much.

  2. I would love to write for a living... but I would definitely need an editor to clean me up. I guess I will stick to blog posts for now ;-)

  3. I can't say that I would like to write for a living as I would probably be very skinny but I wrote three articles that have been published. The first one filled the whole page of The New Freeman, a diocesan weekly news paper and they begged for more but I only wrote that piece because I was inspired to do so about a significant spiritual experience. The other two have been published in a national newsletter. Again, I only write when I have something gnawing at my fingertip and I usually resist writing because it means that I have to sit down for a while.

    If I had extra leisure time, I might consider writing an excerpt from my spiritual journals but not for a living.

    I admire you and all the writers who does this for a living.


  4. Like Huckleberry Finn, who though the best food had rolled around the barrel bottom and swapped flavors.

  5. Morning Rick, I love words and reading them from so many sources. I do not know much about the mechanics of it all! I wish I had learned more about writing as a child or a young adult. Now i just write from what I feel and sense most days. I enjoy your blog post and your friendship! Snorting coffee while very hot can cause nostril discomfort! Just saying...

  6. So very many gems and similes in this post. Fortunately I am not drinking anything at this moment in time.
    I so enjoy your writing.

  7. Well you must be doing something correct if you're still making a living from your writing. So lucky to have your own 'in house' editor! Hope it warms up again for you soon.

  8. I would love to write! However.....I'm not talented in that area...just for blogging! It's been super cool around here lately...sweatshirt on the way to work every morning this week! It was 47 the other morning. But I love it and today it's warmed up and I'm loving that too. Hope you have a good weekend and your column is a hit!

  9. Writing would be my fourth choice, after teaching, social work/ counselling and owning a flower shop.

  10. I just write. I fuss over other people's writing, but not my own. The other people pay me to fuss.


  11. I would love to be a professional writer. I was a professional story teller and chalk artist for years and decided to try my hand at writing. Not as easy as it sounded. I found that my body language and facial expressions had to be put into words. So as a HS drop out who always made top grades in school, it was tough. I did use a professional proof reader on my last book (I told her she was worse than my DI’s on Parris Island) and it did sell better than the rest. But you cannot live off $2.25 royalties a month. LOL
    I admire your style and I do like how the words flow. Easy to see why you have won some awards. After My last book a Senior Romance novel, I listed all my e-books at $.99.

    Good entry. Now if I can get the comment on.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Jack. I think your life story would make a fascinating book.
      Your travel log is impressive and I didn't realize you'd written books too.

  12. When I was younger I wanted to write for a living but not anymore mostly because I can't and when I do my blog posts I just sit and write whatever comes to mind I don't give it much thought I just write which is why my posts are usually just dribble

  13. I spent so much of my life editing compositions for students that when I first retired, I would have said, "No, thank you!" But lately, I wonder!


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