WRITE NOW NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER 2018
“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” – Henry David Thoreau in a letter to Harrison Blake, November 16, 1857
In elementary and high school, I belonged to a 4-H club to train dogs for obedience. My rat terrier, Tony, and I won first place at the Ohio State Fair two years in a row. We had a great trainer, a retired factory superintendent, Louie Levengood who had raised and trained award-winning golden retrievers for decades.
As a big show approached, Louie would run a hand through his white hair and remind us it was time to “turn down the screws.” We were to become precise, tightening our training the way a woodworker might give a screw a few final turns so the head is flush with the wood. Minor imperfections we’d let slide earlier in the season took on new importance.
If Tony did not sit close enough to my heel or was not looking straight ahead as he sat next to me, I gently corrected him. If he did not come quickly enough, I corrected him. Every detail was important. This paid off. Both years, the state fair judges explained, these details were what led each judge to place Tony and I a few points ahead of the nearly perfect Doberman, Precious, and his young woman owner.
It’s time once again to turn down the screws – this time with my memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target.
My deadline, December 1st, approaches like an oncoming train. While I trim, trim, trim, I’m also fixing lingering problems: info dumps, too much telling, and dialogue that doesn’t carry its weight. These tasks require focus reminiscent of those days I spent in the large yard near our barn, walking Tony around and around. Stopping and starting again and again. Correcting. Praising. Perfecting. Over and over and over.
I’m under no illusions that the book will be perfect. This isn’t the state fair. But I know I have the skill and patience to improve it. With Louie’s voice in my ear, I will do my best.
(c)Nita Sweeney, 2018, all rights reserved
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