Posts Tagged With: editing

From 13,000 to 1500: Adventures in Saying Less

From 13,000 to 1500: Adventures in Saying Less










Okay, so I decided to make money writing. There is this contest. (I won’t say which one because I don’t want my other writer friends to know about it because they write in this genre way better than I do, but I need the money more than they do and that gives me the right to be completely selfish.)

So, the only thing I had to do to win it, other than win it, was to cut down a 13,000 word story to 1500 words, or three pages.

Day 1: Oh this is going to be so cool. So doable. This is neat. I am so becoming a real writer now. Oh wow, that’s way too long. So is that. Where are all these words coming from? They are like roaches. How did I get so many? Surely someone should have told me I’m a hoarder before now. …. Oh my god I’ll have to get rid of that and that and that. Christ there won’t be a story anymore. It will be a memorial to the story that was there before I had to cut it into a ridiculous 1500 words. Doesn’t being brief demand that we strip all experiential meaning from what we write and who we are? (Note: the author doesn’t differentiate between the two…which can cause psychological disorders and she has all of them). Christ, it will end up being Cliff Notes. . . here’s what the story would be, if we had the rest of the words, which we, as a writer needing money, cannot apparently afford. Let’s hope we can still win the Pulitzer without any modifiers.

This story will be like an interpretive walk of some battleground, like Gettysburg. While hiking along there will be brief indicators of what happened here (well at this bend in the river, we lost the entire backstory, and over there behind the fallen log, we lost all the turtle metaphors). After reading bits of prose on signs, readers can imagine the rest! Better yet they can write the whole story themselves!

Day 2: It’s currently 9 pages. It needs to be three. Jesus. . . I wonder if Slim Fast will work on words. Or Fen-Phen: kills women but works wonders for word count. Why do I have all these words if I can’t use them? Oh sorry, that’s probably beyond the scope of this pos-

Day 3:  I cut a 9 page story down to three words!

Day 4: My editor tells me it’s unprintable.

Day 5:  8 pages. Has anyone ever died in an editing accident?

(My informant, a local writing teacher, says “Yes, around 100 people.”  She refers to it as a dangerous sport. I knew it! Where’s my body armour?)

woman died in front of computer





Day 6:  Oh my god it’s true! I’m codependent with words I think I have to have!!!! Oh my god, I need you; I want you; you are my life; what would I do if I couldn’t have you…why oh why did God press the delete button? Oh I don’t want to live…hey that sentence looks fantastic. That is the best paragraph ever, minus those six obviously superfluous sentences. No one uses those words anymore anyway. I love my life! Yeah I don’t need YOU GUYS AT ALL!  LMAO!  Look at me I’m so brief!

Day 7: Apparently 7 single spaced pages is not really brief.  Apparently just because there is only half-as-much vocabulary as there was, does not make me a hero. Or a writer.

When I explain to the universe that living in half a house is not really that desirable, I’m told that most authors live in small pup tents.

Day 8:  What do you mean that being successful means accepting limitations?

Day 9: Page count: 5.  Words: 2942.

Day 10:  I think I’m going to have to stop having experiences so I will write less and be able to fit into 3 minute open mics and flash fiction word counts.  This is what life imitates art really means. Like a good woman I should bless my semantic girdle and thank god I’m just giving birth to half a baby!

Think of the weight I won’t have to loose.

Day 11: Hey this half of a baby is kinda cute. Charming in her own way. Definitely half as fussy as her corset-infused mother. Yea patriarchy! I’m sure word counts have something to do with the patriarchal oppression of women. If you’d let me have some words back, I could use them to prove it!

Day 12:  A friend of mine, well former friend, just informed me that I don’t need to have less experiences since all my work is fiction due to having no life due to being a writer and not working like real adults and since I hate discomfort, I rarely leave the house. Apparently out of the house is where experiences happen. She suggested cutting down on the imagination instead.

Wow. Author Deborah Stehr wins The Awesome Writing Prize with 1/3 the imagination of other authors.

I’ll fucking take that.


Day 13:  Well knock me sideways into next Tuesday, it’s 1500 words and the sky hasn’t fallen and since I got rid of my 2/3 of my imagination, I can’t fantasize about the inevitable apocalypse of having to submit a skeleton-who-has-anorexia- story, instead of the full sized model. See I told you it was all about controlling the female body.

Day 14: I submitted my submission via Submittable.

My point exactly.

Day 15-30: I’d better fucking win, that’s all I have to say. No I’m not a good sport. I’m a  writer! Let good manners be for people who can make a living doing what they love. Without my bitterness, I’d never find the balls to compete in this contest or get up in the morning just to be ornery and spit on things. If I’m not punching something, including myself, I don’t feel right. If there is no brawl, I’ll invent one. A writer’s life is fueled by a desperate angry dream! Whoohoo! No I am not drinking too much vodka.

Day 31-40: I fought my way to these 1500 words. God I hope they are the right ones! I hope  the real story isn’t in the discard pile next to the writing career I could have had if I’d just stood my ground and said, no this is the story I want to tell. Am I looking at the career I could have had if I hadn’t believed in the limitations that someone else set for me?

Day 41-62: Is there some dual life I could have? One life I spent with the longer stories, and the other, succumbing to limitations and editors. Why can’t I be omniscient narrator of my own multiple lives, then choose the one I like the most? Agony!

Why can’t my life be more like editing?

Day 63: I win the contest and a lot of money. In my acceptance speech  I say:


“Oh I totally believe in the power of editing. I’ve always felt it was necessary to have self-discipline and not love too much. I think limitations have much to teach us about ourselves. All those trashed words? Piece of cake. . . . .










Yours Truly,

The Laughing Coyote




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Comic Makes Career Ending Spelling Error

Buoyed by the general concern about global warming on humor based life forms, reporter A.C. has been assigned to the internet, to blog about breaking news that should be funny, but probably isn’t, trying to answer the question: is a warmer earth making comics less able to deliver the proper laugh-ratio? 

A.C. files this report:


News just in. It has been reported that Laughing Coyote, the emerging humor writer, has just endured a career ending humiliation at the hands of herself.  Apparently she mispelled, misspellt, mispalled?, mislaepelled, crap, MISSPELLED the word ridiculous in the subtitle of her blog.  And left it there for a month or two, and like the Undone Zipper incident of early September 2014, NO ONE TOLD HER.  

Apparently the REDICULOUS spelling of RIDICULOUS caused Laughing Coyote to die of irony.

Laughing Coyote is not the first, nor probably the last, to croak from an erroneous stroke of lack of genius, or, it appears, the ability to spell simple words, or learn how to edit, or at the very least, learn how to see.

It has been suggested that all future comics wear glasses with a built in Moron Alarm that would buzz and shake the brain in an epileptic fit of cerebral Autocorrect, until the terrible error was attended to like the poor helpless infant it no doubt was. Even people, especially those tuned into the ridiculous should realize that words, like babies, can’t reach out from the screen to the keyboard, and change an E to an I, or at least press DELETE. The motherfucking writer needs to do that.

Then it was suggested (by people who don’t believe in personal responsibility): Why the hell didn’t she use AUTOCORRECT? I mean that’s what it’s there for, to save innocent words from the mistakes of their parents!


This would probably be the time where Laughing Coyote’s family and true fans, not to mention sponsors WOULD NOT SAY that Laughing Coyote was having a running fued…I mean feud…with the autocorrect on her new iPhone because she hated what it was doing to her content, let alone her relationships. After several episodes of “I’ll pick you up for dinner,” turning into “I’ll provide you with free sex,” or “I want to hover on your girlfriend,” or “where’s my flucking heroin?”, Laughing Coyote dubbed the this technology alternatively as “Auto-Mistake,” or when more pissed off, “Auto-Fuck-Up,” and threatened to “turn off the little shit forever,”….then stopped talking when other people on the train began to show signs of fear because she was shouting at her small cute Smart Phone.

This would definitely be a story that proponents of Laughing Coyote’s continued existence would say if they just stopped not saying it. Instead they sent a text to this reporter, saying, “Know comet.”

Evidently they knew about Laughing Coyote’s streak of rugged, individualistic self-determination.


However, those folks who are glad that Laughing Coyote is dead—because what writer deserves to live after that kind of public display—ridiculous!—claim that the WordPress blog site was taking revenge on her for her one-sided objectification, and possibly sexism, towards technology…called techno-vaginalism.

Her foolish idea that people should know how to spell, proofread, edit, lock their own doors in cars, read maps, and text without suggestions, has been proven wrong. She died from being wrong. Doing things for yourself is wrong. Take note readers.

In Defense of Laughing Coyote

Well meaning proponents tried to defend her major error in the second header on her website by saying, “Well their was know working splellcheck in that softwear, so how can she be held responsible?”

(After this statement, gravediggers claimed that Laughing Coyote rolled over and groaned inside her death mask of irony even though she was Expedia… expired. Dead.)

These same “curators” of LC’s legacy add that they find it remarkable that no one said anything. “I mean really,” said the LCP spokesperson I talked to yesterday. “People just let her hang there with her zipper unzipped, food on her face, vittles in her teeth, ass hanging out in the wind, egg on her nose–you get the picture.”  He continued, “Since we can’t conclude that her readership is too stupid to know the correct spelling of ridiculous because that would be too re- uh…farfetched, we must conclude that it was malicious.”

“You mean intentional?” asked this reporter.


“You mean she was murdered. By Autocorrect.”

He nodded. “The inventors of Autocorrect. Who else would be that cruel, to let an error just sit there, in plain view of the public. It has to be a conspiracy.”

I said, “But people make spelling errors all the time. Even editors. Even spellers!”

Then the Deputy LCP spokesperson chimed in, “Or it could have been the makers of Auto-Completion.  We think they anticipated that Laughing Coyote was about to do a riveting piece about the terrible unintended consequences of Auto-Completion. She had collected thousands of stories of people whose lives had been ruined by Autocorrect, everything from the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004; to the decision to let Sarah Palin run for Vice-President in 2008; to  news affiliates letting Donald Trump ever appear on TV with the sound on, to the declaration of war on Iraq. NWMD was apparently texted as WMD.”

“Thanks to Auto-Fuck up,” wrote Laughing Coyote in a never published blog post that the LCP spokesman let me read, “thousands of marriages have been ruined, parties failed to be attended and friendships ended because someone accidentally wrote “Fuck you,” instead of “I love you.”  Tennis matches have been missed and long-standing partnerships frayed because 4pm became “for Pam,” and who the fuck is Pam? No one knows.”

Laughing Coyote went on to say, “Does the world really need an automatic mistake maker? Really?”

Then she added, “And Auto-completion? I think it’s proof that psychics don’t exist. I would never in my life say or think what this Auto-Not-Oracle thinks I’m about to say. Plus it doesn’t speak Spanish. Half the world speaks Spanish. What am I going to do with a Non-Spanish speaking Incompetent Fortune Teller on my iPhone that makes me sound like a pervy, monolingual 8 year old? Really? What is the point of that? I’m being completely misrepresented in my messaging.”

The LCP Cheif spokes person added, “Laughing Coyote thought that Auto-Completion was a government conspiracy taking over the public’s mind and interfering with free speech. She argued that it uses people’s inherent laziness and readiness to embrace any automated anything just because it exists. She wrote and I’m quoting here, ‘We should worry less about Congress and the NSA taking away our freedom to say what we want and what we mean; we should be more concerned about our own sexting! I mean texting! Dam it!'”

This reporter’s response was: “Well that’s not the least bit insane, is it?”

The LCP spokespeople just blinked at me.

Poor Laughing Coyote, I thought. Sometimes it’s really better not to have anyone on your side.


Fortunately, Laughing Coyote left a suicide note. In it she wrote, “I take full responsibility for my redi-ridiculous mistake, some of which can be chalked up to my Oklahoma accent in which I often mistake “e-sounds” and short “i” vowel sounds because they are pritty interchangeable where I grew up, and getting a Ph.D. and being a writer hasn’t autocorrected it. I mean corrected it. However that is not an excuse. I am a bit shocked no one else noticed, but that could be because no one really reads my blog (and who could blame them with this kind of crap on it!), or maybe no one really cares about how to spell ridiculous! I do think there needs to be more regulation of blogs. Comics should not be allowed to just run around with their proverbial dicks sticking out of their pants with no regulation. Therefore, out of shame and respect for other humor writers and the profession itself, I’m going to fall on my iPhone, press delete and die because apparently I can’t live up to my own standards, but I also can’t trust Auto-Completion to say what I want it to. What is a Word-User to do?”

So it appears that Laughing Coyote ultimately did not take the easy way out.  She blamed herself instead of some conspiracy or a malfunctioning Spell-Check. She took responsibility for her own spelling. I think that’s pretty spectacular, don’t you?

A few weeks later, loyal followers of Laughing Coyote Productions (and there are some that she didn’t pay off) paid local Santa Fe psychic, Luna Tooney, to contact the deceased Laughing Coyote to ask if she would mind being resurrected.

Provisionally LC said, “Yeah, if you don’t make a big deal out of it. Being the apex of a religion would really take a lot of energy and since I’m a Certified Level 4 Sloth, it would be a bit much. It’s rather crowded down here in Dead World. Takes forever to get airlifted to another dimension due to cutbacks, that, and you’ll love this, are due to Auto-Correct. Some dead idiot said ‘yes’ when he meant ‘yesterday’  and now there’s a back log, and while I’m waiting to be more dead, I might as well come back and try to be useful.”

At that point the LCP Interim Manager said, “We think we have a great role for you. One that will help millions and put you back on the fast track to about five minutes of success before you finish dying.”

“What would that be?” asked Laughing Coyote?

“You can be the Corrector of Auto-Correct. (We call it CAC..yes it does sounds like a furball.) Your ability to see through errors with integrity and not blame them on mistake prevention technology (MPT) proves your suitability for this. You can still try to be funny in your spare time.”

Thus LC was resurrected, but she’ll deny the whole thing if you ask her since being a goddess is so tiresome. That incidentally is her full name now-Laughing Coyote Goddess-but since that’s overkill for an Auto-Correct Corrector, she just asks that the Goddess be dropped. This is not difficult for most people seeing that most world religions are not excited about having to stretch holiness to include human figures who have boobs.

This is LCP Reporter, Auta Correta, Reporting




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