Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On Rewrites

Life's been pretty good in the freelance game, wiht editors regularly sending me quick-hit type stories and cheques coming in a few weeks after. I was getting into fashion writing, to the surprise of my rubber-boots-and fleece-wearing mom, and I was never short of work. I even took a month off!
(Well, sort of. On my honeymoon I wrote on the opening of a new Michael Kors store in Ottawa and contributed to KMKK radio/ MolokaiNews on Molokai).

And maybe it's true that "if people don't shop, people lose their jobs," but I was starting to feel like I shouldn't be placing all my eggs in one basket (no matter how fashionable that basket may be).

So I'm looking to health issues. I love physical activity, and I enjoy writing about that stuff, but medical issues are a bigger challenge, and probably a bigger market.

I should have known that this noble challenge I was taking on would mean going back to J-School, if just in terms of CP stylebooks and asking big questions about what the heck I'm really writing about. Yes, I got a big, overwhelming note from an editor saying that I hadn't answered some big questions and, worst of all, was writing in a promotional style. Maybe it was the year of fashion writing, because in J-school I think I was more inflammatory than promotional, but I took her comments to heart and ripped the article apart.

So last weekend, Saturday morning no less, saw me jotting down the gist of each point I wanted to make, then arranging them, then taping this arrangement to the wall in front of my desk. Of course, once I got my steam going I hardly glanced at this arrangement, but it helped me ask important questions about the subject at hand: the T-Zone machine, and exercise device that uses vibration technology to strengthen muscles.

And I still wasn't 100 per cent satisfied -- but my editors were. And I got more satisfaction out of answering basic questions about anaerobic exercise and muscle atrophy than I did finding the right descriptor for silk dupion (which I understand is made with double cocoons!)

PS -- I'm also hoping that rewrites lead to a better, more collaborative relationship with my editors. I know they're busy, but if I were an editor I'd try to make the time for this sort of thing. A springboard, a writing coach, a person to vent to. Once trust is there, it will make me work faster (and even for less. shh).

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