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My wheelbarrow’s lessons on writing Editor's Notes #320
August 19, 2020

All our work, our whole life is a matter of semantics,
because words are the tools with which we work,
the material out of which laws are made,
out of which the Constitution was written.
Everything depends on our understanding of them. 

—Felix Frankfurter

In this issue:

1. My wheelbarrow’s lessons on writing
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.My wheelbarrow’s lessons on writing
Although simple age will wear down most equipment, other things got me into trouble with my thirty-three-year-old, Audrey-sized wheelbarrow, a house-warming gift from my uncle when I bought my first house.

Despite the fact that I have always loved my little red wheelbarrow, I had neglected it in recent years. Like most people, I can procrastinate, and I certainly did that. I could have refurbished my wheelbarrow when I first thought of doing so a few years ago. Procrastination won because I had other priorities, some of them downright emergencies. But let’s face it, given time, we can always get the important things done. I let other urgent events derail the important work on my wheelbarrow.

Then I created a situation of out-of-site-out-of-mind compounded by a habit of putting aside the maintenance and refurbishment. Finally, the coup de grace: I didn’t even put my wheelbarrow under cover last fall.

When I finally started my wheelbarrow project last month, I discovered that the tire had finally given up the ghost, and I needed to take the wheel off to replace it. The bolts holding it on were rusted to the the nuts I had to loosen.

Directions from experts at the local building supply store had me spraying penetrating oil on the bolts repeatedly, hitting them with a hammer to encourage them to let go, and buying a vice grip and borrowing another one from my helpful uncle so I could hold a nut and turn a bolt at the same time. Yesterday, after a month (and half a can of penetrating oil), multiple whacks with the hammer, and yet another session with the vice grips, the nuts let go, and the bolts came out, freeing the wheel.

Crouched down by that wheel, I thought of how this experience is like what happens to some writers.

As writers, we often get stuck on our way to meeting our writing goals just like the bolts were stuck on my wheelbarrow. Here are the lessons on writing that came to mind as I worked on those bolts.
  • When my first (and second and third and fourth) efforts didn’t work at all, I went to experts for advice. Writers who get stuck turn to writing support groups, writing courses, Web sites for writers, books for writers, and sometimes to editors.
  • I needed tools and equipment I didn’t have. Writers sometimes need specific advice from an expert (an experienced, published writer, or an editor) for advice on how to move forward. This could be guidance on breaking a bad writing habit or advice about publishers or other professionals.
  • I kept trying what I’d been assured would eventually work. I could have stopped any day along the way and given up. I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve seen scores of writers persevere and make a breakthrough that changed their writing forever. I’ve seen many others who stopped before they met success. Only the individual writer can decide when the return on investment is not high enough to keep on, but I can say for sure that many give up just as they are on the cusp of success.

While I was writing this, the hardware store where I bought the new tire and inner tube called to say their worker had put the wheel back together. I had had a chance to get the bolts off. I know I would never have been able to get the tire and inner tube in place. That’s a job I’ve never had success with, and at my age, I know when to pay someone else to take over. Serious writers who plan to publish will need some professional help at some point. Even with what I’ve said in the previous paragraphs, it’s OK to need help. In fact, that’s smart. While the helpful man at the hardware store worked on my wheelbarrow wheel (something I would be terrible at and probably wouldn’t ever do successfully), I was busy typing this issue of Editor’s Notes (something I think I’m pretty good at).

When you want to ask a writerly question, I’m here and delighted to help you out just like the people you probably have in your neighbourhood stores who answer your questions. And when you want to move on to professional editing, I’m delighted to that, too. Be sure to check out the Covid-19 offer for you below. It’s still in effect.

2.Tickled my funny bone
So many coronavirus jokes out there, it’s a pundemic.

3. Interesting Web site
Here is an interesting page of commonly misspelled words along with ways to remember the correct spellings.

4. Writing prompt
The article in this issue is an extended metaphor in which the aspects of one thing are attributed to another. In this case, my experiences with my wheelbarrow shine a light on problems writers have. Choose an item or event from your life; list ways your choice is like something else entirely; write a paragraph or two that shows the extended metaphor. I always love to see your writing, so send me what you’ve done.

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
If you’ve been hemming and hawing about working with an editor, you may be ready to take advantage of my Covid-19 offer. If you’re not sure, watch for the next few issues of Editor’s Notes. I plan to give advice about how to know when it’s time to approach an editor, and since the virus is not likely to disappear in the next few weeks, this offer will still be here.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. It’s still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

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