Call Rewrite!

I recently posted an eBook to Barnes & Noble. But that’s not what this is about. After I hit “post” I got a message that things might take 72 hours. Knowing I couldn’t wait that long, I checked back 20 minutes later and looked at it. I found more than one sloppy edit on the very first page. Eager as I had been to post, I took too little time on the rewriting. 

I have a hard time rewriting my own stuff.

Other people’s stuff, now that’s a different thing. When I get done with a rewrite, whoever put the original words on the page comes out sounding like me. 

rewriteA few years ago I was on a sabbatical when a Taiwanese colleague asked me to edit something that he had to submit in English. Although he had done his PhD at a school in Chicago, his prose wasn’t up to publication standards.  I agreed to do it, then forgot. I was in New Jersey with a full day to spare when I got a note asking where the rewrite was, because his due date was rapidly approaching. I recall spending an entire morning in an otherwise charmless motel room pounding away at a keyboard, making his prose sound like mine. As to whether the result was up to publication standards or not, well, that’s another thing.

Lately I’ve undertaken another rewrite project in pursuit of personal spiritual development. Four months ago I attended the 50th reunion of my high school class. I sat with a woman I hadn’t known then. A mutual friend mentioned that she had published a volume of spiritual poetry, which I promised to order from Amazon. When it arrived, I added one of her poems per day to my habitual spiritual development routine. Though published in 2017, each bore a date, some stretching back to 1976. They demonstrate her fervent faith and passionate love for God,take freedom with language and demonstrate her poetic flair.

I’m not a poet. I write song lyrics, which must fit tunes. I don’t write tunes, though. Recently I began to rewrite her lines into and verses that rhyme and meters that fit tunes. On occasion the “theologian” in me corrects something here or there where her words have blurred a “fine distinction” that I’ve been trained to sniff out. 

Sadly, the rewritten stuff, which I’ve promised only to share with the author, comes out sounding like me. Nonetheless, I’ll keep on, through the end of the book. 

David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.

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