Rewriting Exercise

Self Driven Assignment: Take Saturday’s 500 word post and try to make it better. Say the same thing in 300 words or less. Don’t spend more than 1 hour.

Result Below. Well, it has a better hook if nothing else. Did I stay on message? Not sure. Come to think of it, not quite sure I communicated what I intended to in the original post. Didn’t make it even close to 300 words – ended up with 367. And as for the one hour time limit: FAIL. The rewrite took 3 & 1/2 hours. Perhaps today’s lesson plan was too ambitious.


Hearing Oprah laugh when she said, “Labia,” I forced myself not to look away from the gardner as I walked by. Dr. Laura Berman laughed, too, “Good. Now say ‘vulva’,” she chimed. Perhaps my face was already pink enough with cardio to hide my embarrassment. The gardner, intent on trimming the neighbor’s rose bushes, didn’t notice me anyway. Even if he had looked up, there was no way for anyone to tell I had a sex show podcast going on in these ear buds.

It was the latest in my many attempts at self-improvement. The same afternoon, I began Barbara Abercrombie’s “Courage & Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story”. In it, she recommends that the reader find a muse, “someone whose writing … reminds you why you’re so passionate about writing.” No one came immediately to mind.

Then, for reasons having nothing to do with my embracing of Abercrombie’s text, I promised a dear friend I’d join her in reading “The Color Purple”. At the library, I encountered a delightful surprise – a nonfiction work – also by Walker, “The Same River Twice”*. I knew instantly that I would read both books together. As I headed to check out, my pace accelerated with an exuberance I haven’t felt in a long time.

Only ankle deep in either text, I find myself in kneeling-at-the-altar-awe. How can I call myself a writer? At least there is comfort in knowing this is merely a “blog post”. Even the words “blog” and “post” are ugly. Just a post. A blawg. It’s all the more clear to me why Abercrombie’s title starts with “courage.”

In “The Same River Twice”, Alice Walker writes lovingly about Oprah Winfrey. Having just received a giggle-filled dose of O’style encouragement concerning the most intimate of realms, I can’t help but see the coincidence as a sign that Mother Nature herself is directing my education.

Look what I photographed during that secret podcast walk the other day. In less than 40 minutes, less than a mile away.

These flowers are no less my teachers than Oprah Winfrey, my dear friend or Barbara Abercrombie; each blossom is no less my muse than Alice Walker, Celie, Shug, Sofia, Nettie or the neighbor’s gardner.


*The full title is “The Same River Twice – Honoring the Difficult: A Meditation on Life, Spirit, Art and the Making of the Film The Color Purple Ten Years Later” by Alice Walker.

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