D.K. Pope

writing (writing, writing) to make sense of this world

How to not tick off your editor in four easy steps

I just finished my first textbook editing assignment and have some thoughts about writing. (Also, yes, I’m alive — just a bad blogger.)

There is no virtue to being a good writer, but there is virtue to following instructions. As your editor, I don’t care if you’re a fantastic writer. If your words plod across the page without inspiration, that’s perfectly fine. It’s my job to take what you’ve written and make it easier to read. But, fortheloveofGod, follow the instructions. If the Writer’s Guide says to write in third person, write in third person. If the chapter needs sub-headings, write the sub-headings. Know what’s expected inside and out and pride yourself on producing work that only needs to be edited for its grammar and structure. Follow the instructions and no one gets hurt.

Writing is only as strong as its content. I remember laboring under the disillusion that I just needed to make my writing sound a certain way — to come up with a voice — but I’ve realized that good writing first needs a compelling message. In the case of a textbook, the content is clearly king and my work is to facilitate clear understanding of it. If the content comes out rough at first, that’s fine. But don’t drone on using empty platitudes and listing endless adjectives just to fill up space while you nervously sense you’re overextended. A reader can sense fluff like a bloodhound on the hunt. Stop, think, read, rewrite.

Avoiding outlines and organization at the beginning of the writing process only leads to misery. I’ve monologued about outlines before. My bias is out there for you to see. When working on a personal writing project, I suppose it’s okay to use whatever method (or lack of method) that’s preferred. But, when writing content that will be vetted by multiple editors please, please use an outline of some sort. I will be able to see the outline reflected in the work and understand what you’re trying to say that much better.

And, I saved the most important for last, if you quote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in your work do not misspell Bueller. 

Living up to my bad blogger name

I've started drinking coffee again and it's GREAT.

I’ve started drinking coffee again and it’s GREAT.

When I feel overwhelmed in my day-to-day, I definitely feel overwhelmed online. There’s something about all the extra voices found in social media that make me want to go hide in a closet. So when I feel like that I know I need to take a small step back, make sure I’m eating right and showering and smiling (the basics).

It’s reminds me that I’m an introvert.

Most of the time I love connecting online, but a switch will flip and suddenly I’m completely out of steam and the last thing I want to do is reply to a tweet. Those 140 characters are just too much.

Since I’ve started writing and editing for other publications in earnest, sometimes I feel like I’m hemorrhaging words. It’s a good sensation most of the time, but it can be exhausting and requires attention.

Bloody metaphors aside, this post was meant to say, “I’m back!” And at least I tell you I’m a bad blogger, so you know what you’re getting into here.

A little Sunday reading / watching / cooking update


Early in the week my parents (with some help from me) launched the website for their new business. It is so cool to work with them on a project like this. When I read this article about how the artistic journey is a lot like the plot of Groundhog Day, I felt like it was written for me. How did the author know it’s one of my favorite movies? On Friday I made a new vegan, gluten-free, egg-free dish that used up our giant head of bok choy and it was a hit. (Note: I substituted tofu for the pork.) Last night my husband and I watched Champ (I’m always a sucker for sports documentaries) and it was fascinating. Also depressing. It astounds me how many times young athletes are taken advantage of by their ‘supporters.’ But the ending was positive. If you need a new app to waste time on looking at expensive things you won’t buy, I’ve got just the thing. (It’s fun.)

Elsewhere, I wrote a lot about Microsoft and as well as a little piece about lessons learned from parenting.

Hope your Sunday is filled with watermelon and swimsuits (it’s H O T out here.)

A retrospective on my life with cheese

In other words, I’ve been egg, dairy and gluten-free for three weeks and I’ve started to dream about cheese.

The funny thing is that I miss cheese very little, day-to-day. What I miss is the idea of cheese, the community of cheese. I love shopping for cheese (Brie? Chèvre? Both? Yes.) and I love sitting around with a hunk of bread and slices of cheese. The conversations always seem to be better when fat and carbs are involved.

The only reason I haven’t cheated on this diet is because it isn’t all about me. If that was the case I would have thrown in the towel the first time I came face-to-face with the smoked gouda at my local grocer. I’m on this diet because it’s a way to find out if there are food sensitivities in my family, and see if eliminating them could help improve my son’s skin issues. So now my party line is, “No cheese, please.”

But don’t be sad for me, I’m not. My sandwiches are delicious with hummus instead of cheddar, and my salads are still tempting without the feta. I almost question how deep my love for cheese was, if it’s this easy to give it up. No, Devin, don’t go there! 

I still have a glimmer of hope because this diet isn’t forever (it has an undetermined ending so far) and someday I’ll be able to indulge in my salty, fatty love again. Until then, please (for my sake) always ask for extra cheese when you order pizza.

There is the woman I am, and the woman I want to be

One of the best things about growing older, for me, is that I get more and more comfortable in my skin. I feel less need to explain myself and more happiness with who I am. Still, I have ideas and images in my mind of who I’d like to be as I grow up. Some are remarkably superficial, and I’ll probably discard them later, because who needs expensive underwear as a marker of womanhood?

Anyway, I wrote a short list of the types of woman I might like to be in the future.

The type of woman whose knives are always sharp. The type of woman who overdresses on purpose. The type of woman who has read the bestseller and the obscure book she picked up last weekend.
The type of woman who wears expensive underwear underneath humble clothing. The type of woman who throws fabulous dinner parties. The type of woman who sings along in the grocery store unabashedly.
The type of woman who can win a debate. The type of woman who knows the name of the janitor. The type of woman who speaks her mind without hesitation. The type of woman who takes no bullshit.
The type of woman who can be kind instead of right. The type of woman who has friends of every streak of the rainbow. The type of woman who can hold her liquor, but doesn’t want more than the occasional glass of wine or beer.

I’m not a big fan of aspiration – spending too much time in that mindset negatively impacts my brain. It’s easy for me to get lost thinking about the future.

But I need goals to drag me through the days when folding another load of laundry might just kill me. And happily I see that some of these aspirations are in their beginning stages already. I caught myself singing (maybe it was humming) in the grocery store the other day.

It’s a start.