Monday, July 1, 2013


Writing tutors (and come to think of it, maybe all teachers and writers) are translators. In my tutoring, I try to help the author translate his ideas into clearer prose that will show them to maximum advantage.

Sometimes the ideas are still in their nascent stages, needing to be coaxed out, ordered, shaped. It helps to be a patient gardener, and perhaps that's the answer to the question I once posed to visiting author and serious gardener, Jamaica Kincaid, about why so many authors are also passionate gardeners.

Gardeners guide the eye where they think it should go. If they plant their own seeds--in itself an act of faith--they need to take the long view.

If they buy a plant started by someone else, they need to place it with care.

When perennials return, having perhaps overstepped their bounds, it's time for the gardener/writing coach to bring out the pruners.

How many times have I said, "Don't dilute the force of a great idea by burying it amidst too many others." Every good idea deserves its moment in the sun. 

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