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too close familiarity?

Posted by pinetree30 Sierra Westside (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 25, 05 at 14:05

I am trying to write a chapter on a rather involved tree life history topic. In the past I have written articles about some of this material; and I have written sections of since-abandoned books on other parts of the material. I find that now, in trying to put it all together to form a more complete story, I am actually hindered by this history of involvement. It's hard to approach it with a fresh mind, and I don't think I can very well stitch together some of the old pieces, because there are stylistic differences in the parts I've already done. What would you do -- go back to the drawing board and tear up everything that's already on paper? Or edit like crazy to merge the pieces together in a hopefully seamless way?

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RE: too close familiarity?

  • Posted by John_D USDA 8b WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 25, 05 at 16:18

I'd go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. I have found that I tend to bog down in old material, while starting anew lets me see things I had not noticed (or emphasized) before. This makes writing a lot more exciting for me -- and, hopefully, for the reader as well. Once I get going, I have found that writing new text actually takes less time than reworking old copy.

I never take an old book on the road with me when I'm about to write a new one.

For example, right now, I am writing a new book about the West Coast (among several projects). While I have already written several food, wine, and travel books about the West (plus several hundred newspaper and magazine stories), this new book is taking a totally different tack and, while it will touch on some of the "old" places, it will be as different from my previous write-ups as I can make it. I've already done a lot of historical and site research, delving much deeper than I have before. This is also making the project a lot of fun.

RE: too close familiarity?

I would just clip out the facts as research already done, and then, as John suggested write from scratch. By the way, did you know you need to footnote yourself for any published work. This is another reason to just start over.

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