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Yet, even with these changes, my piece remained too lengthy. Did I really want to slice it down further, at risk of losing my reason for writing it? What, precisely, *was* my reason for writing it?
That's when I had an "ah ha" moment. I reviewed essay again, and I began to find entire paragraphs that, although nicely written (in my humble opinion!), did not *directly* contribute to main point. Although these paragraphs provided additional background and perhaps a dash or two of color, could essay survive without them? The answer was undeniably "yes."
So, with nary a whimper, I wielded my pen/scalpel on those paragraphs, which brought piece under word limit. This enabled me to submit it guiltlessly, knowing I'd managed to walk that line between respecting editor's guidelines and maintaining integrity of what I wanted to communicate.
Okay, I'll admit that I *did* save original version as well. Perhaps I'll submit longer, more lush essay to another publication someday. But I'm pleased with edited one as well. And yes, essay ran. (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NAWWWeekly/message/45)
So what did I learn from this exercise that I want to share with you?
1. First, go ahead and just write what you want to write.
2. Then leave it alone for a while. At least a day or so, maybe longer.
3. When you reread it for first time, eliminate obvious flaws. Cut out unnecessary phrases. Rework long, rambling sentences into shorter, sharp ones.
4. Ask yourself why you are truly writing piece, and whether every paragraph contributes to your reason(s) for writing it. Delete those that don't make grade. To assist you through this most difficult step, focus on fact that you want to get your work published. This enables you to let go of any sentences that stand in way of you and your goal.
Finally, to help ease pain of self-surgery, save your original work under one document name, and your edited result under another. You may be able to use those discarded paragraphs in another piece down road.
Mary Anne Hahn has written numerous articles on writing, the writing life, business and career topics. She is also editor and publisher of WriteSuccess, the free biweekly ezine of ideas, information and inspiration for people who want to pursue SUCCESSFUL writing careers. Ti subscribe, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org .