On Writing…(2)

Memorial Day morning someone stopped by our place for a visit.  During the course of our conversation,  our guest brought up my newly published book.  They’d read it, and wanted to get two additional copies.  Can’t remember who said what next, but the next thing I knew, we were talking about several things they’d wished I’d done differently.

I genuinely wanted to hear their thoughts, because after the dozens of times I’ve been over that manuscript, revising, editing, deleting, correcting, etc.  my brain has become jaded.   Back in 2008, I’d shown the first chapter of my rough draft to someone else who considered themselves a writer of sorts.  After I listened to their input, I ended up with a writer’s block for three years. 😉

Lessen learned.  Be very careful with whom I share my rough drafts.

As we sat at our kitchen table Monday morning,  my guest told me he wished I’d spent more time talking about such and such.   Then later in the book, he wondered what book it was he was reading?  I seemed to be spending much more time talking about certain people than I needed.   I’d included the lyrics of a song by Alison Kraus half way through the book..He felt that I’d stolen the thunder for the story it was supposed to be introducing, not to mention, in the song, the  story happened on a mountain, whereas, in my book, the incident took place on the plains…..

My guest is a thinker.   I like him.

I said to him, “Where were you a year ago???!

“Next time, I write something, I  said, I would love to get your feedback.”

I  may have taken some of his suggestions into account if we’d had this conversation a year ago, but at this point, the book  is what it is.

I was thinking  more about our conversation this afternoon.  Before submitting my final (11th) revision  to the printer,  I had  eight different sets of eyes perusing all or parts of my earlier drafts.

Eight sets of eyes.

Some specifically, looking @ basic grammar and others,  giving input on readability and flow.

I gave it my best shot and I’m thrilled with the end product.

I’ve never had a class in writing.

Not that I wouldn’t be interested, but it would really depend on who was teaching.

I do read books and articles on the topic to improve my skill.  Couple of years ago, a young woman with a bachelor’s degree in writing spent a few afternoons trying to mentor me, but other than that, I am a work in progress.

Are there still details I might change, after listening to my latest guest…?


And maybe not.

Last night, a quote by Theodore Roosevelt kept coming to mind.

   ” It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”


Thanks to all of you that stop by this blog and interact.  Work is currently taking up  most of my creative energy  so I’ve not replied to several of your comments like I would normally do.

Good night 🙂





13 thoughts on “On Writing…(2)

  1. I have come across that quote before and love it as much now as I did then! DM, you really did throw your hat in the arena–and then jump in after it and get bloody. And you did a beautiful job! I was so impressed by your book not because it was PERFECT in the sense that I just had to call the New York Times and have them review it because MILLIONS of people should read it…but because it was a totally realized, 100% finished, finely crafted, and very personal book that had the stamp of you and your family and your area all over it. Alison Kraus song included. I suspect the book is too specific in it’s interests and focus to be of interest to all of the country, or an international bestseller…but if I were your kid, or grandkid, or your neighbor (a fellow Iowan), or your friend (as I happen to be), or a local historian, or even a historian or sociologist looking at various aspects of the American experience, I would be thrilled with it as a professional, well-made piece of D M, Lyman Dillon, and Iowa local history generally. I was super impressed because YOU MADE A BOOK (that alone is an achievement) but also because there is nothing amateurish or “undone” about it. I know professional writers and people with Phds, and any one of them could have produced this book, and I couldn’t have told you what the difference was between their product and yours…except yours is likely to have been better put together than some of theirs. ;-). I guess I kept thinking, “well, this is a bucket list item, so DM is doing it”..but then, when i saw the book, it was really clear that you didn’t just work to check something off on a list, you gave it your all, sought out really excellent helping eyes and hands to polish it, and wrote and made exactly what you wanted to write and make- and did it well. I couldn’t admire that more!! And that, to me, makes your book just perfect exactly as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. DM, I’ve not read your book, so I have no critical opinion about it. But, the mere thought of ever writing one, scares the pants off of me. Nothing is ever perfect. Dennis

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NO! their thoughts were just that. thoughts. opinions. Not actual writing form disagreements. You will hear a bunch of stuff about your book, but filter it through and then dump it! Unfortunately everyone is a critic and ‘can do better’ BUT YOU wrote the book, you did the leg work LITERALLY. you can can be HUMBLY PROUD of what you accomplished!! DO NOT LET anyone get you down or question your writing! We LOVE you and are proud of you here in NW Merica!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ditto what Jane said.
    You wrote it, people are buying it!
    Congratulations I award you the title of Author.

    Only have you considered why those who criticise either haven’t written a book (so have no idea about what you personally put into the project), or have but it was a flop (making them bitter and twisted) or it was a success (making them feel superior to you).

    It’s your book, not theirs.
    Be strong Grasshopper!!

    Liked by 1 person

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