There are very few people who know me who don’t also know that I’ve been working on an e-book on how to succeed in an community college. In fact, I’ve talked about it so much that some people are probably wondering if I’m “all talk” or if one day there will actually be this digital book online. It’s gonna happen, Folks! It really is.
It’s not that I’ve been dragging my feet. It’s that I just haven’t been able to get a good feeling about it. Something wasn’t working, but I couldn’t figure out what. My writing group suggested more white space and less narrative. One, an artist, recommended using more photographs and fewer words. When I asked one of my friends, a retired English teacher who proofread the MS for me, if she thought students would read it, she said something like, “I think students will read it as well as they’ll read anything.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
After a moment, she said, “It’s been my experience that it’s hard to get them to read anything.”
If there are any students reading this, don’t be offended. That’s been my experience too. If only we (teachers) could figure out a way to get our students to read the material BEFORE class, we’d shout for joy.
Back to the “something not working,” a few weeks ago, I asked a student who is also a writer to look through the MS. I was pretty excited about getting her perspective, until I actually got it, that is. While this young writer told me that she thought the advice in the e-book was extremely helpful, she suggested that my voice was almost too much like that of a teacher. She also wondered if a couple of my stories/vignettes were a little too long.
So…..after I let the work “marinate” a couple of days, I went back into the MS and made some changes including softening my tone and shortening a couple of stories. And then I attended the South Carolina Writers Workshop and learned a couple of other ideas that I might use to jazz things up a bit.
At some point I’m going to have to let the work go, but for the next week or, I’m going to be busy making a few changes. I’m going to start with Leonard Elmore’s advice to “leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” Sure hope the muse is with me when I try to figure out what those parts are!