|Multiple versions, notes, pens, paper, computer|
Still, right before I hit "send" to the editor, I read the piece one more time, ran spell check one more time, and found errors I would have missed if I'd just been looking at the screen.
I know, the shorter version is leaner and probably better--I'm happy with it, but wistful. I'll tell you what and where it's about when it goes to press in a few months.
I'm not complaining, because every story is a discovery of new stories and people and interesting places.
It all started with "I wonder." Then I accumulated more than 2,500 words of scribbled notes from in-person interviews and visits, email and phone interviews, email follow up with more questions, checking web pages, transcribing the notes, checking the AP style book.. Then there was lots of stewing and thinking, running phrases and sentences over in my head.
First done was the "lead," about 100 words in three paragraphs itself, written and revised and polished, and changed again even today. Usually that makes the rest of the story easier, but this one got down to essentials. I finally decided on the concluding paragraphs Friday, and spent the weekend cutting and pasting and rearranging and making it flow.
I ended with three versions of it--from 100 words to long, to acceptable. Now it's the editor's job. Whew.