The best thing about writing Long Row is there are no editors. The worst thing about writing Long Row is there are no editors.
Long Row makes enough mistakes to fill a long book. And I want to write about those mistakes from time to time. Hopefully the lessons will sink in to my hard head, a head that has been writing down words digitally and on paper for many years now.
I have two lessons today.
The first lesson. Don’t use too many photos. It can overwhelm the story. I spent a lot of time trying to craft a decent description of a hike I took on the Eiger Trail in the Swiss Alps, “Under the Wall of Death” (September 29). For the most part, I liked what I wrote but I thought the post was way too long yet I couldn’t bring myself to cut it. That is the danger of putting a lot of time and energy into the writing. You start to think it’s sacrosanct. With that in mind, I attempted to break up all that text with a whopping 13 photos over roughly 1,800 words. That’s a photo every 138 words. Or almost two photos per the old standard page of 250 words. By using too many photos, most readers are going to be distracted, the color images overpowering the text. That was not my intent. A photo every 250 words is the max, unless you’re writing for a photo essay. Or you are a masochist just wanting to write words that won’t be read, a condition that seems to describe me perfectly.
Lesson 2. When writing a journal, keep it current. Don’t lag behind like I have with “A first visit to the Swiss Alps.” The trip was over on August 20, and yet six weeks later I have not accounted for the last five days. When you fall behind, not only does a reader lose the continuity of your journal and probably goes away, but the writer finds it increasingly difficult to finish. I am officially and inescapably bored with “A first visit,” and, although I will finish it, the writing will be a drudge. The secret with these blog journals, it seems to me, is to keep the daily entries short and to the point. I tried to write “War and Peace” on every one of them. I knew better. No self-discipline.
I admit it. Sometimes I need an editor.
The teacher closes his class for now.