One Thousand Words on My Red Pen

I’ve been doing a lot of editing on my MPBAN lately, like the bit below.

I know, I know. It’s kind of a cheat to use it for a post. But editing is as important to the process as writing, so I’m practicing.

The leader of the workshop called this project my “creative process.” I hadn’t really thought about it like that. I consider it more like rehearsal, but I like the sound of having a “creative process.”

But the one thing this project does is make me inflate things. A lot of what I write could be better said in 500 words or 800 words.

I’ve started going back over past writing and paring it down. I’m enjoying that work. I always thought I’d be a good editor.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve discovered that sometimes my desire to come to a clean ending at 1000 words has limited my plot options.

It’s kind of like improvisational theater. If you’re in a scene with someone, and they say “let’s go for a walk,” you stop the action dead if you say no.

I’ve been trying to say yes more through my editing and move this damn thing along.

Anyway, you can read the original post here.

“Going All In For God. By Pastor Sebastian Weinbaum.”

He pulled back from the screen to admire the title from a distance.

It wasn’t quite right. He typed again.

“Going All In For God: My Life. By Pastor Sebastian T. Weinbaum.”

Happy with the changes, Sebastian took a break to get a Mountain Dew and chocolate chunk cookie. There were benefits to having your office in a Quiznos.

Three o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon was not a busy time for the restaurant, so the assistant manager was working behind the counter alone.

“The usual, please Charlene” Sebastian pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.

Charlene drew his soda. “Working on Sunday’s sermon?”

He hadn’t convinced any of the Quiznos staff to attend services but he always read them early drafts of his homilies.

“Not today. I’m writing my memoirs.”

Charlene did not look impressed. “Really?”

Sebastian’s hackled went up. “Yes, really. I’ve had a very interesting life. This book is going to be a best seller and then I can buy our ministry a church.”

“What happened to Chringles?”

Sebastian scowled. He had been thrilled with the onslaught of Christian singles who signed up for the dating service when the Chringles website went live.

But he had neglected to work out all the necessary screening procedures and a month in he realized that Chringles had been pairing underage students from Upland Christian Academy with inmates in the maximum security wing of the state prison in Chino.

He took the site down immediately and refunded everyone, including the schoolgirls and felons, but the experience left a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Chringles didn’t work out.” Sebastian took the memory of his recent failure, along with his drink and cookie, back to his table and glared at the blinking cursor.

Charlene slid into the booth across from him. Her substantial breasts rested on the table. “I read a lot of biographies. Read me what you got so far and I’ll tell you if I’d buy your book.”

Sebastian was suspicious. Charlene didn’t look like a reader. Her wiry hair was dyed an unnatural red and she had a hoop in one eyebrow. “What are you reading right now?”

“The Barbara Walter’s memoir. She had a mentally handicapped sister, you know.”

Satisfied that Charlene was indeed a biography reader, Sebastian recited the first line he had been composing in his head all day.

“I was born in Mohawk, New York in 1962.”

Charlene held up her hand. She had a ring on every finger and her thumb. “Stop right there. No one is going to believe that you were born in a town called ‘Mohawk.’”

“But I was born in Mohawk.”

A customer entered. “Hold that thought” Charlene said as she returned to the counter.

Sebastian pouted while she made a baja chicken sandwich with extra mayo. How dare she criticize the name of the town he was born in? A biography is supposed to be a true story. He couldn’t just make up a city, for Christ’s sake.

“Second, even if I picked your book up in a store, I’d read that sentence and put it right back down. It’s boring.” Charlene continued.

“I think I’ll go write someone where else.” Sebastian slammed his computer closed. “What’s so funny?”

“You can’t take criticism. I thought a minister would be able to take the truth.”

Sebastian stared at the table top. She was right. A man of God shouldn’t have a hissy fit because the woman at Quiznos didn’t like the first line of his book.

He sighed. “Ok, what do you suggest?”

Charlene turned his laptop around so it was facing her. “May I?”

Sebastian nodded and she opened it back up.

“The books I like always start with a hook before getting into that boring shit.”

She sat with her fingers poised over the keys. “What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in your life?”

“I was in the World Series of Poker.”

Charlene tilted her head to the side. “I thought you’d say God speaking to you, but we can make the poker work too.”

She typed for a minute and then read from the screen. “Kenny Roger’s sang ‘You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.’ I lived by these words during my quest to reach the World Series of Poker. And now that I’ve walked away from the table and to the pulpit, they still hold true. You’ve got to know when to walk away from the Devil and run to the Lord.”

Sebastian looked at Charlene with new admiration. She had talents beyond sandwich making. “How would you like to be my ghost writer?”


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