Word-Count: The Hack-Writer’s Lament

Word Count: The Hack-Writer’s Lament

I know.

Get the word-count down.

It’s good for me? It’s what makes a good writer? Please.

Murder your darlings. You mean murder the story.

It would have been shorter if I’d had more time?

More time is not the problem. More time, and the story will be shaved away.

Word-count, you say. This is not about writing better. This is about the publisher’s sticker shock.

I’ll tell you what. Let me have the two hundred extra words. 200 x 40 cents = eighty dollars. I will give you the eighty dollars, if you will give me my story.

But I’m not going to say that. I’m going to set the latest print-out on my desk. In the morning, I will send you the piece, minus 200 words.

I’ll give you a skeleton,

Picked clean by the vultures of concision.

A. Bredenberg — 22 April 2019

 

Advertisements

Reading His Collected Poems

I read his poems
Each one a few spare lines —
An image of an old woman or a honeysuckle vine or a bee or a dying man.
I shift in my chair, munch on salted nuts, heave a sigh.
You’re the great man,
Get to the point.
Tell a real story.
Say something.
I close the book and set it on the desk.
I rinse my drinking glass,
Shed my day clothes,
Brush my teeth,
Stand at the window looking out on a quiet street.
Somewhere across the city, a train whistle whines.
The book sits there on the desk.
Damn you.
I pick it up, take it to my bed,
Read it until sleep takes me away.

3 July 2016

 

‘Let’s Let Ties Die,’ by Jeff Bredenberg

My brother, the writer Jeff Bredenberg, kindly gave me permission to publish these lines of verse disparaging the necktie:

Let’s Let Ties Die

By Jeff Bredenberg

I think that I shall never spy

A garment sillier than a tie.

A silky flag to catch the breeze,

A rag to snag my every sneeze,

A sickly cloth of polka dots: mustard drops

and ice cream blots.

And when my dangling finery

Gets tangled in machinery,

I’ll lose my breath for sake of dress

And meet my death by printing press!

If fashions fade the whole year through,

Why, oh why, can’t ties die, too?

*

— Jeff Bredenberg

This poem was originally written for the book “How to Cheat at Cleaning,” and It is dedicated to the memory of my father, Paul A. Bredenberg, who detested ties.)