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Posts Tagged ‘Gathering String’

The Bloomington Pantagraph's first "Scoop," a Waco "90" biplane, pictured in 1929. Reprinted with permission of The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

The Bloomington Pantagraph’s first “Scoop,” a Waco “90” biplane, pictured in 1929. Reprinted with permission of The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

In the way that one idea leads to another which leads to another, this post is a flight of fancy. We start with an old family story about the ride my Uncle Pleas took 85 years ago on a plane called Scoop, then to some other stories I found from a bygone era when newspapers could afford their own pilots and planes, then to some flying stories from my career.

My mother, Harriet Buttry, was a tireless archivist of family writings before Alzheimer’s took over her mind. A shelf in her home displayed books by authors in the family, and notebooks collected magazine articles and other writings, including too many of my newspaper stories, columns and blog posts.

After helping Mom with a recent move, my brother Dan thinned the collection a bit and sent me some boxes of family writings. Most were my old newspaper stories. I was surprised how faithful I had been sending clippings to Mom, but not at all surprised how faithful she was at filing them away. But Dan sent me more than just my own work. The collection included The Great Depression: True Stories of Trials and Triumphscompiled by the McLean County Home and Community Education Association in Illinois in 2006.

That book had three family connections: My cousin Mary Lou Lawson was one of the editors, and a story toward the back of the book was written by my uncle, Pleasant J. Buttry (we called him Uncle Pleas and he also went by Pat). His sister (Mary Lou’s mother and my aunt) Minda was a key character. Here’s Uncle Pleas’s story: (more…)

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Gathering String by Mimi JohnsonMy wife, Mimi Johnson, last week published her first novel, Gathering String.

Acknowledging my obvious bias and my financial stake in the success of her book, I want to share some writing lessons from her book experience:

Rewrite. I don’t know (and I’m sure she doesn’t know) how many times Mimi rewrote this book, but she rewrote multiple times: restructuring the whole thing, polishing chapters and individual sentences, updating, working out wrinkles in the plot. Rewriting is one of the most important and certainly the most neglected step in writing. As Forrester (Sean Connery character in the video clip below) says, you write the first draft with your heart and you rewrite with your head. Mimi did the heart part of this story years ago. But she had to finish the head part before it was ready for publication. Even if you’re blogging or tweeting, I recommend taking the time to rewrite. For a blog post or tweet, the rewrite might take minutes or seconds, rather than years. But rewriting is nearly always time well spent.

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