Arizona

Blogging My Book: Getting the Words Right

During a 1958 interview with George Plimpton, Ernest Hemingway talked about writing — and rewriting. Plimpton asked Hemingway about the amount of rewriting he did, and Hemingway replied, “It depends.”

Hemingway went on to explain that he took the ending of A Farewell to Arms through 39 rewrites before he was satisfied. What was the problem? “Getting the words right,” Hemingway said.

I can certainly relate to that. Writing this book about nature in the city is turning into quite the challenge.

Meet the Feedback Fiends

I don’t know what kind of help Hemingway got from his friends, family, and colleagues, but I would like to take a moment to introduce you to the people who are helping me get the words right. And let me tell you, these two Tucsonans are tough. That’s why I call them the Feedback Fiends.

The first fiend is a real stickler for proper word usage and impeccable grammar. She catches things that I didn’t think were problems — and I’m glad she’s so detail oriented.

The second Feedback Fiend is like a reincarnation of the legendary theatre director and acting teacher Lee Strasberg.

Every single reading session feels like a Method Acting clinic with Mr. Strasberg his own self: “What were you feeling when you wrote this passage? What’s your motivation for including this sentence fragment? Shouldn’t it be a complete sentence? And tell me more about the moment you described in this paragraph. Give me the details!”

Whew! What a workout!

But it’s a good one. These two individuals are fiendishly committed to making this book much better than I could have on my own. I stand in awe of them.

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