Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reduction Sauce, or On the Way to Orion

From the Friends of Copeland Creek
Once upon a time, a few years back, I wrote some essays about the interaction between our suburban/rural campus and nature, which were irregularly published in the campus newsletter. One of those essays was about Copeland Creek flooding the campus; the piece had some interesting observations, irrelevant asides and a mix of imagery. It was a bit chatty and close to 1,000 words long.

A little over a year ago, I dusted the piece off, tossed away most of the irrelevancies, reworked it to be more about rivers and streams in general and submitted it for inclusion in the  Voice of the River book, edited by Patti Trimble. It came in around 600 words.

Then, about six months ago, I trimmed it down drastically to a something I could read in three minutes for the Women on Writers Conference at Skyline College. Whole paragraphs were lopped off, the rest of the asides and most of the witty remarks were slashed.  I got it down to 450 words.  It was acquiring some polish, I thought.

Okay. Last month, I took that same small piece, took out all the really unnecessary words (particularly the witty remarks), added back in the location details, tightened up the structure, smoothed out the transitions. I spent hours grinding and buffing it down  to a condensed nugget of 350 words. This I submitted online to the "The Place Where You Live" feature on the Orion Magazine website in March.

I didn't get a response, so I chalked it up to experience and moved on. But then, last week, prompted by a teaser-message in my inbox for the new issue of Orion, I went by the site, read an article or two and clicked the link to TPWYL. And and lo and behold, there it is, under the red star marked Sonoma State University.

So if you enjoy writing about place, check it out, submit something. In time, the map will be filled with a billion red stars, each linked to a snippet about a particular location, which when read,will create an ever-expanding, aggregated collage of our planet, place by place, moment by moment. Now how cool is that?


Noise makers!