Saturday, October 29, 2011

Keep it Simple - Fraud and Revision

Last Friday was a bad day. It had started out well - completed student packets and three good hours of writing under my belt. Until I received the phone call from my 93-year-old mother, concerning a relative in jail in Canada needing bail money. Already some of you are thinking - uh, oh. Red flag. But not Claire. And not my mother. "We need to help her." I fell for it. My busy brother's assistant did, too.

But in the end, I was responsible. I made the choice to lead with emotion and not common sense. I sent a wire with money. Yes, I did. And what does this have to do with writing? I didn't stay grounded. I got caught up in wanting to help, instead of listening to the true voice in my head saying, something is not right. I got taken in by fictitious police in Canada. Ah, I smell the beginnings of a novel. But I am in the middle of revision. First draft writing can lead with emotion, but not during revision. At that point, we must step back and keep it simple. Keep focused on the story and the characters at hand, with a detached eye. Cutting any and all parts that don't work, even if we feel strongly about them.

When my husband arrived home and heard about the Western Union wire I had sent, he was like - what???? He got on the phone with the fraud department and then I told John at Western Union about my bad day. He stopped the wire in time. My mother's money was saved. Like good editors, my husband and John didn't let the book go to press, even though I had decided it was good to go.

Listen to trusted editors and readers when they tell you something isn't working. Rather than react emotionally, step back and at least consider the information. Never wire money through Western Union to someone you don't know. Even Craig's List advises that. Too bad they don't publish books too.


  1. Oh dear! A phone call from an upset 93-year-old mother would prompt many of us to lead with emotion. Loving our ideas does the same. Thank goodness for those who can help us by offering another perspective.

  2. So glad this ended well, Claire! Criminals are clever and prey on the best of us. This same scheme happened to a family member, and she too was able to stop the wire transfer.

    Great thing about a community is that we all look out for one another. No one leads with emotion or with skepticism 100% of the time. So, the check and balance system works best in our community and in life, in general. Kudos to the folks who check and balance us! :0)

  3. One of my first publications was an essay about a check I wrote to a Kirby salesman ... we all have these moments. Thank god for John and Western Union and the "stop payment" feature on checking accounts! xo Claire.

    Now back to revision. Too bad I'm so pregnant I don't think I have an analytical mind anymore. More like cotton candy.

  4. Claire, I'm so glad this story has a good ending. We need both parts-the emotion that fuels the story, and the editors that shape and direct.

    Maybe, soon, we'll see a non-fiction story from you on various frauds--princes, felons, orange sellers (that's another story).

  5. LOL, Jackie. I don't want to go there, but there would indeed be plenty to write about. Rebecca, I thought Kirby's were good vacuums? Am I still not cured?