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The Joys of Rewriting


Recently I got to talk with some 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students from Newmarket Elementary in New Hampshire., The one piece of advice that their teachers asked me to emphasize was that a writer's first attempt at writing a story should never be the final product. Writing and rewriting go hand-in-hand. A writer's first effort is never their best or final product. There are several editing steps that take place to fully refine and polish it. Often times the edits are almost unnoticeable and sometimes they are drastic.


I mentioned to them that there are words that sneak into our writing that don't belong. They steal space and fog up the reader's effort to understand the story's purpose. They are thieves! It is the writer's job to find those thieves and kick them out. And just as important, there are words missing that are waiting to be discovered like orphans. Often these orphans, once adopted, replace the thieves and other times they are adopted to enhance what is already written. These missing words provide specificity and organization of thought for the reader.


How do writers find the missing words or the thieves? Writers can't discover either unless they set the latest draft aside for a time and then read it again with fresh and more critical eyes. To illustrate the point, below are the progressive rewrites of a new poem I am working on for a Christmas project. In my case, the rewrite included eliminating/adding a single word or phrases, reorganizing the placement of stanzas, and even re-framing the message.


In my opinion, State school Boards have converted the art and joy of writing to a formulaic task. If they want young people to improve their writing skills, students must first learn to enjoy words. Writing has to be fun--unlocking their imaginations. Students need to be taught how to play with words and be word sleuths. For example, if I were still a teacher, I might start by assigning students to write the most outrageous story they could think of (individually or as a team) forgetting all the rules for writing, punctuation and language-- just writing to have fun. I might make this a special time each week using a variety of crazy prompts until writing and imagination are partners. Once writing is fun, creative, silly (expressive) then I would add the necessary rules (editing) -a few at a time -demonstrating how rules improve a story's readability and enjoyment.


Here is sequence of re-writes for this poem yet to be publicly published.

First saved effort:

The Blessing of Christmas#1

Are you worried anew as the season draws near

there is dwindling hope and less spirit or cheer—

that the blessings of Christmas might ever be lost

midst the rushing, the wanting and all of the cost;

or dismayed that more people will settle for less

like convenience in giving because of the stress?


Yet it’s true without question these blessings for sure—

these essentials of Christmas so needful and pure—

are not found on a shelf or displayed in a yard

or in “Holiday Greetings” inscribed on some card.


We have known all along they aren’t found ‘neath a tree

but, reside in our hearts. Yes, within you and me.

So, take heart my good friend for the blessings still live

in the words that we share and the thanks that we give.

The great blessing of Christmas, as scriptures foretold,

is alive in our hearts where it never grows old.


Second saved effort:

The Blessing of Christmas #2


Do you sense once again as this Christmas draws near

that it’s missing true kindness, good wishes and cheer—

that the Blessings of Christmas might ever be lost

midst the rushing, the wanting and all of the cost?


It’s been shown over time that those Blessings for sure—

those essentials of Christmas so needful and pure—

aren’t found on a shelf or displayed in a yard

or in “Holiday Greetings” inscribed on some card.


What we know to be true is those blessings still live

in the words that we share and the love that we give

proven true in the story –so often retold–

of a baby and shepherds that never grows old.


When confronting a stranger who’s shopping your aisle

offer greetings, good wishes and generous smile.

Take some time to bless others. Make use of these days.

Let His Spirit shine through as devotion and praise.


Third saved Effort

The Blessing of Christmas#3

Do you sense once again as this Christmas draws near

that it’s missing some kindness, good wishes and cheer—

that the Blessings of Christmas might ever be lost

midst the rushing, the wanting and all of the cost?


It’s been shown over time that those Blessings for sure—

those essentials of Christmas so needful and pure—

aren’t found on a shelf or displayed in a yard

or in “Holiday Greetings” inscribed on some card.


What we know to be true is those blessings still live

in the words that we share and the love that we give

found each year in the story –so often retold–

of a baby and shepherds that never grows old.


Offer greetings at Christmas and plentiful smiles

to each shopper you meet coming down the store’s aisles.

Let’s make use of this time to bless others in ways

that God’s Spirit is shared through devotion and praise.

Fourth Saved Effort

The Blessing of Christmas#4

Are you troubled again as this Christmas draws near

that it’s missing more kindness, good wishes and cheer—

that the Blessings of Christmas might ever be lost

midst the rushing, the wanting and all of the cost?


It’s been shown over time that those Blessings for sure—

those essentials of Christmas so needful and pure—

aren’t found on a shelf or displayed in a yard

or in “Holiday Greetings” inscribed on some card.


What we know to be true is those blessings still live

in the words that we share and the love that we give

still inscribed in the story –so often retold–

of a baby and shepherds that never grows old.


Let’s make use of each day to bless others in ways

that the Savior shines through in devotion and praise.

Share His love with the stranger and give where there’s need

so that Baby of Christmas is honored in deed.

all forms copyrighted 2022 by KH Meyers


I'm sure I'm still not done. I feel there are still some thieves stealing space or orphans yet to be adopted. So I will return to this short poem several more times.


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