Lessons in Editing

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Something really exciting happened to me this week! In my last post, I wrote about training and completing my first half marathon as a mother runner and the parallels I saw in my journey as a writer. I wrote a little article about my experience and took a chance and submitted it to Runner’s World. AND THEY ACCEPTED IT! It went live two days ago. You can read it here.

As I have said before, I’m new on the writing journey. Even though I have had several guest posts, this was the first one where I was asked questions, to incorporate more detail, and submit edits. Together, the editor and I worked together to create a piece that was what the Runner’s World audience was used to consuming and was still T.S. Reiger.  I was thrilled to see how RW kept my tone, my voice, and my story, but helped me trim down the fluff to deliver something crisp and concise:

Original submission:
I am a mother runner. It’s a title I acquired after my son was born earlier this year. I have always run short distances off and on throughout my life as part of an exercise routine. In 2013, I kicked my running up a notch and ran my first half marathon that fall. I even followed the training plan two more times in 2014.

First revision: 
Like many women, I have battled my weight since adolescence. I have been on a yo-yo rollercoaster of the same 40 pounds as long as I can remember. Since high school, I have always run short distances as part of an exercise routine. In the fall 2013, I was a PhD student and needed a goal to keep me accountable and committed to fitness to combat my sedentary lifestyle. I kicked my running habits up a notch and decided to train for my first half marathon at Purdue University, where I was attending graduate school. I was a complete novice and tried running at a pace above what I had trained. Of course, I burned out around mile 8 and ended up finishing with a pace that was a minute slower than what I had trained for. I didn’t register for races in 2014, but I still followed Hal Higdon’s training plan two more times just to stay in shape.

Final cut:
Like many women, I’ve battled weight since adolescence, so I’ve run short distances for exercise ever since high school. But in the fall of 2013 I kicked my running up a notch. I was a PhD student at Purdue University, and extremely sedentary. I desperately needed a goal to help stay fit, so I decided to train for a half marathon. Though I didn’t quite run as fast as I’d hoped, I enjoyed it enough to run two more halves in the following years.

What happened here was GREAT! Some people might resist changes, but I loved seeing what details were needed in order to still allow the entire story. I felt like I was too cautious and stringent in the first draft because I was intimidated to write for such a large publication. It shows because you can see the missing holes in my first submission. With the second, I was answering questions from the editor and more of my voice comes through. However, it’s too lengthy and has unnecessary description. The final cut is a nice balance between the two that provides readers with what they need and allows T.S. Reiger to shine through.

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