# of pages revised: 30
# of literary mags submitted to: 3
# of days left to complete 2nd draft: 68
When my mother was here visiting, I told her she had to try one of Nikki’s lemon-poppy seed zucchini muffins.
“Is this one of those gluten-free things?” she asked, all loud and sassy.
“Yes,” Nikki said, sassing her back.
“I like gluten,” my mother declared, taking a bite. “Muffins need gluten.”
I knew, and luckily Nikki knew, that my mother was not complaining or purposefully being rude. In fact, she liked the muffin. She just doesn’t sensor herself when speaking.
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Today Nikki said, “you know, Nate really listens to everything you say and thinks about it very carefully.”
“Oh no,” I said. “I just vomit up words all day. Half the time I don’t even mean what I’m saying. I’m just trying to be entertaining or, I don’t know, talking to hear the sound of my own voice.”
In fact, sometimes I don’t know what I think about a topic until I start talking about it. I’ll babble for awhile, and eventually come around to figuring out what I it is that I really think.
“He should just disregard half the stuff I say,” I told Nikki.
Or, perhaps, I shouldn’t say half the stuff I do.
* * *
I wrote a short story last week about a married woman who has an affair with her personal trainer. It ended up being over 10,000 words, which really is too long for a short story. I sent it to a handful of people for feedback, but only Bernard got back to me.
“I like it,” he said. “But sometimes you say too much.”
Yeah, that’s my problem.
* * *
“Your blog entries are too long,” my mom told me while she was here. “I only read about three-fourths of the way, because you just keep going on and on.”
She’s right. I write the same way I talk. Often times I’ll start writing these blog entries before I really know what my point is, or what I’m even trying to say.
Today I revised my short story, “Personal Training.” I managed to get it down to 9,448 words, although it could use another round or two of cutting. I’m getting better and better at cutting down my fiction and learning how to say only what’s necessary. I don’t do that in my blog, nor, it seems, in my life.
But if I can edit my stories, I can do better at editing myself. Because there are people who are listening to me and remembering every word I say. I want to make sure that what they’re hearing is what I really mean.