Knowing When to Stop

 

Today, a story I’ve been working on for years was published online in bioStories. I remember the first time I shared it aloud in a writing workshop at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. At the time, I thought I was just writing a nice story about my aunts and why I loved them. They were nice ladies, and they were nice to me.

The instructor at Penn said it made her think of what we lose, sometimes, when we get what we want. In the essay, I mention reading in one of her books that Gloria Steinem realized her apartment didn’t look like a home. She went on to make it more cozy for herself. My aunts never had that problem. They were housewives of the 1950s and their homes were Cozy with a Capital C. I loved visiting them both.

That teachers’ comment led me deeper into the story, closer to what I was trying to say.

Still, it took years of revision and another writing workshop before the piece was good enough to find a home in print. I went over the ending, especially, many times. As a writer, and as a teacher, speaker, and human person, I find I have a tendency to repeat myself, to say what I mean over and over. And then I write or say more to make sure you really got it. This time, with help, I was able to stop at exactly the right spot.

Do you think I did? What’s your ‘blind spot’ as a writer? As a person?