Author Bob Hostetler

Rewrite is Constant

Whether you’re a published or unpublished writer, aspiring or “arrived” (as if), you have probably discovered one of the foibles of the writing life: Rewrite is constant.

You can’t escape it. In fact, unless you’re a brand new writer, you probably can’t help but edit and rewrite repeatedly and reflexively during the course of a day.

You might be walking through the airport and find yourself shuddering at the “Be Relax” sign that greets you. It makes you just want to grab a permanent marker and add an –ed to the phrase everywhere it appears.

Or, as my friend Liz Curtis Higgs mentioned in a recent writers conference keynote address, you might shake your head at a “Help Wanted” sign for a “part-time adult.” (Or you might be tempted to apply, figuring you can at least fake adulthood for a few hours at a time.)

The writer’s sensibilities are almost constantly offended by misplaced apostrophes (“Professional Sign’s and Lettering,” seriously?) and the apparent inability of 99% of the English-speaking world to properly use your/you’re, they’re/their/there, and it’s/its. We proofread and mentally rewrite restaurant menus, restroom signage, and newspaper headlines, such as these:

Missippi’s literacy program shows improvement

Law would require most retailers to except cash

More adults have died from eating laundry pods than kids

Police shoot dead wanted man driving Maserati

Scientists to unleash millions of mosquitos to have sex with their cousins and kill them

If you’re anything like me, you definitely have my sympathies because you can’t even listen to some popular songs without rewriting them. Like Neil Diamond’s “I Am, I Said,” in which the lines, “To no one there, and no one heard at all, not even the chair” could’ve been, with just a few seconds more thought, “and nobody cared” or “my words went nowhere.” Or almost anything besides, “not even the chair”?

If any of this describes you, there may not be a cure; but at least you’re not alone. What have you mentally rewritten recently?


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