"I don't know what to do."
That's what Barbie wrote when she contacted me about her book.
She'd been working on her memoir for years. The writing was done and she wanted to move forward, to publish the book, but she had so many questions.
Should she find someone to edit the book? Where could she get a cover design? And what about the inside? She had no idea where to begin.
She's not alone.
Writing a book is a huge accomplishment, getting it into book form and publishing it is another.
Together we reviewed her manuscript, edited and organized what she'd written, talked about titles, cover designs ... and how and where to get it published.
As we worked through the project, Barbie often thanked me for my guidance and told me she was learning so much about the process.
I was learning, too. Learning about how hard it can be for writers to share their work, to hand it over and trust things will work out.
Last month after Barbie's book was published, she sent me a note:
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have been a dream to work with. I am so happy with my book. I could NEVER have done with out you."
Do you have a book tucked in a drawer ... waiting to be published?
Do you have an idea for a book but aren't sure where to start?
Maybe I can help. Especially with things like ...
So there's this dog up the street; a menacing, bothersome dog. It came at me on Sunday, full bark.
It was one more run-in with a dog that reminded of another run-in, so I decided to write about it.
After getting it all down, it was too long and too wordy, so I edited what I'd written. And edited some more.
But there was still one bit that wasn't right. It was too forced, too much.
Does that happen with your writing?
You have too many (or too few) words, but still struggle to find the right ones?
Well, I kept at it until I found the one word that would fix it all: dumbfounded.
Here's the story. I'm sharing it because it's ridiculous and good for a laugh if you need one.
Years ago I was walking with Agatha, my long-earred, droopy-eyed, red and white basset hound. It was early morning and I chose to mix things up and walk through a neighborhood across the avenue.
We were two blocks in when a German shepherd bolted from the side of a one-story house on the corner.
Agatha was a sweet, easy-going dog and she merely raised her head to look at him and continued on her way.
I should have followed her lead, but this guy, with so much barking and circling, getting closer and closer, was making me nervous.
Until I heard a voice.
A woman's voice coming from inside the house. It was hard to make sense of it all, but there she was, peering out from a six-inch gap at the bottom of an open window. With her head tilted and wedged in the opening and her cheek pressed against the windowsill, she pushed her face forward toward the outside screen and spoke again.
"Ask him if he wants a bath," she said.
"What?" I asked (though I was fairly certain I heard what she said).
"Ask him if he wants a bath," she said again.
Dumbfounded, but feeling a bit desperate, I did what she said.
Turning to the circling shepherd I said, "Do you want a bath?"
That dog stopped barking, dropped his head, tucked his tail, and turned back toward the house.
The gap in the window closed.
Until I found that one word, I was writing about how confused I was, how I wasn't sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing ... blah, blah, blah.
Writing is hard for all of us because ... writing is hard.
Do you sometimes struggle with writing?
Maybe I can help. Especially with things like ...
Spelling is complicated ... and easier than ever. Spell-check is a great tool, even if it's always correcting me, fixing my mistakes, and schooling me on the proper spelling of this word ... and that one.
But, despite its know-all application, I know it's not perfect.
Do the spell-check double check
Spell-check catches a lot, but a regular check on spell-check is good practice.
Proofread your writing
Your book, ebooks, essays, and emails could all use a good proofing before being shared.
Give your writing (no matter the format) a good review; eyeballs on each and every word.
Read your writing out loud
When you've got your final draft, read your writing out loud. It's one of the best ways to catch awkward phrases and confusing sentences.
This simple infographic was designed to help you visualize three words that spell-check, and your memory bank, might struggle with: their, they're, and there.
The first clue: they all start with the same three letters: t-h-e.
It's a good tip. Especially when you're trying to remember how to spell their. Is it "i" before "e"? Not this time.
Wondering if it's their or they're? Just remember their is possessive. The clue here is the possessive "i" tucked in there, just right of center.
What about they're? Break it apart and look at the two words it represents to get your answer: they're = they are. Is that what you're trying to say? It's a good tip for figuring out if it's its or it's, too. Separate the words and you'll know.
And finally, there. It, too, holds a clue, it's got the word "here" nestled comfortably inside itself. Remember that and you'll know if it's here or there where you want to be.
If you need help with words, let's exchange a few. Maybe I can help.
I write words, edit words, and arrange words, online and on paper. Helping you look like the professional you are.
Call 207-252-9757 today, or write.
p.s. I did the spell-check double check on this email and my fingers are crossed I didn't miss anything. But let me know if I did.
Much of my work revolves around words: arranging words, writing words, and editing words.
Last week I considered the word racism. And then the opposite, respect: to show regard or consideration for.
As I considered the words, I imagined editing them, replacing one with the other. Then illustrating the idea with red line editing; crossing out the unwanted word, writing in the new one.
Spell-check and track changes in word processing documents have replaced red line edits done by hand. A hand-drawn line through a word with a loop at the end indicates the word should be taken out. Removed. The arrow indicates what it should be replaced with.
If only it were that easy to edit and change behavior. To replace racism with respect and acknowledge that Black Lives Matter.