Conflict of Interest

I got burned by an Englishman yesterday.

Not physically burned, as in, he spilled his scalding hot tea on my arm while reaching for a crumpet. (By the way, I’ve never met a stereotype I didn’t fully embrace.) Instead, I refer to the definition in Urban Dictionary:

A usually sarcastic and insulting comment, devised to burn someone’s emotions.

What happened was, our Creative Director at work—the one who made me cut my beautiful words—called me over to his desk. “Could you pad this article?” he asked. “It needs to be a little longer.”

“Wow, this is a change of pace!” I replied. “You’re asking me to add words instead of cut them!”

“That’s right,” he said, and without missing a beat, delivered the barb. “You didn’t write this one.”

Oh, snap! The thing is, he’s not wrong. I do tend to be wordy. Others might call me long-winded, but I prefer to think of myself as simply being an overachiever. Why describe something in six words, for instance, when 18 would paint a much more detailed and compelling picture?

Irony alert: I’m a writer and editor. That latter task requires trimming down copy to eliminate redundancy and more succinctly fit in the confines of a particular space. I’m good at it, too…except when it comes to my own work apparently.

Being a writer AND an editor is a conflict of interest!


This morning, I shoveled snow for the fifth time in 10 days. The annoying thing is, it’s just been a little bit of snow every time, usually an inch or two. Not enough to drag out the snowblower, which we have yet to use. It mostly melts in a day or two, because we’ve been yo-yoing between, say, 18º one day and 47º the next.

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Yesterday’s commute home was treacherous but pretty.

If it’s going to snow, Tara and I both think it should really snow. Go ahead, Mother Nature: impress us! Not that I’m complaining. Even a dusting of snow covers up the barren ground and makes everything look beautifully pristine.

The weird thing about Rapid City is, our “snowy season” is really March and April. 42 percent of our snowfall occurs during those two months.

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Rapid City snowfall

In Portland, if you reached late February without seeing snow (as they have this year), then winter is essentially over. Spring is in full swing by March. Out here, we can forget about planting that garden of ours until May at the earliest.

As fond as I am of the winter months, I do long for mild summer evenings spent on the patio, something meaty sizzling on the grill, a glass of wine in hand.

It’s just great to live someplace where I can equally appreciate all four seasons.

28 Comments on “Conflict of Interest

  1. Mark, that photo is so beautiful! WOW…that sky is gorgeous!

    “If it’s going to snow, Tara and I both think it should really snow.”

    I agree with you both 100%! As you may have already known from watching the news, we here on the Northeast Coast have gotten no snow this winter. I think NYC got a bit, but not much. Yesterday it was so warm that I couldn’t even wear a light jacket because it was too much. I think it reached 60 degrees and that is way to warm for winter.

    I’m hoping the end of Feb and March bring it on. I’ve even seen it snow in April here.

    *fingers crossed*

    In the meantime, please send some South Dakota snow my way.

    Thank you, my friend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t believe you haven’t gotten any snow, Ron. Even after I did all those naked snow chants for you in the backyard! If those didn’t do the trick, I think you’re just going to have to develop a better appreciation for summer now!

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  2. I’m fed up with winter. But in my area, spring is often (not always) short – 2 weeks of ‘oh yeah, lets have this for the next two months’ which ends up being more like ‘turn on the AC immediately it’s so humid today’ by the second week… 🙂

    In the meantime it’s going to be mud season before we can actually venture outside and enjoy the elements without wearing 17 layers. Ha.

    Like my wordy comment? You’re the editor, you go ahead and chop me. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am also a wordy writer. When critiquing, I am ruthless: “redundant!” “unnecessary!” But for my manuscripts of blog posts? I have to let the material get cold and then ruthlessly ask, “Does this section advance the story? No? I am a Cyberman! DELETE.”

    If Lin Manuel Miranda & Howard Ashman can cut entire songs, I can hack a paragraph without weeping.

    Maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So then are you good at editing your own work? Which makes me ask next, why don’t you cut your writing down BEFORE you turn it in? Does that count as a burn? I am 1/2 English, though not a man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m terrible at editing my own work, because I don’t want to cut anything. As a writer, I try to make every word count. As an editor, I try to get rid of extraneous words. Do you see my dilemma here??

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  5. That is a lovely photo. The evergreens are so tall and full. I’ve shoveled only 7 times this entire winter. Many years, I shovel 7 times in 5 days! March can be very snowy here, with wet, heavy snow, so I’m not ready to celebrate yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe our snow gets heavier and wetter in March and April, too. Makes sense with the higher sun angle and warmer temps. There aren’t a lot of evergreens in Rapid City itself—not like all the Douglas fir trees in Vancouver and Portland—but that particular stretch is nice. And of course, there are tons of ponderosa pine all over the hills surrounding town.

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  6. Just today, after 10K of XC skiing, I told the husband that, though I feel disloyal (to winter) for saying it, I’m kinda looking forward to spring/summer. I agree – having four seasons is great.

    Another coincidence with your blog: Again, just today, for the first time ever, I started the process of entering a writing contest. It had to fit a certain theme and be limited to 700 words. I perused my blog and found what I considered to be a suitable choice, copied and pasted it into Word so I could see the word count, and began paring it down. Oh my God! I’ve pared and pared and gotten 1800 words down to something like 1550. I’m not sure how much more I can lose without totally destroying the story. I guess it’s a good writing practice/exercise?? (You tell me, professional writer.) I’ll work on it more tomorrow perhaps, but boy, that is not easy. It may be the case that I just can’t fit my plus-size story into size 2 jeans, ya know? And my runner-up blog post that fits the theme looks to have the same problem. Oh vey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s an excellent way to learn brevity, but cutting out over half your words is probably impossible. I struggle to get 100 down to 80 sometimes! Having said that, good luck with the contest. I’ve entered a few over the years and they are always a blast. Have you ever done NaNoWriMo?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Never have. I really don’t have a novel inside me. Just personal narratives. Incidentally, I managed to cut it down. I can’t remember if the final submission was 699 words or 700 words. Either way, I felt like I was cutting off limbs during that editing process. The least they can do is pick me as winner for the the suffering it caused me. 😉

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  7. Hey, we got some snow – for about three hours.

    For me, cutting words is like pruning roses. I do it, and it makes a dent, but I probably don’t do it enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 2 things 1) Found your blog through Jinjer and have greatly enjoyed it – reading about the snow, South Dakota, etc. (I live 20 minutes from Malibu. I saw dolphins in the ocean with a friend who was visiting from Michigan. Don’t kill me. It’s beautiful here now – but so is your lovely white snow!!!) 2) Even if they used a real dog in the new Harrison Ford movie, people would be pissed that animals had to work instead of be free. No one wins so live your best life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PS: This reply was for the wrong post. Meant it for the “Call of the Wild” post. Good day to you! Maybe today you’ll get that fancy tour of Mt. Rushmore.

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    • Thank you for the kind words and for following along! You bring up an excellent point. The animal-rights activists would be up in arms over Buck. I enjoyed the movie; guess that’s all that matters!

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  9. You are delightfully verbose. As am I. Editing is hard. It was a good burn, but also, a clear indication you can be relied upon to add some dimension to a flatter piece.
    We’ve had less snow than is typical, having only to actually shovel on two weekdays so far, and even then, it wasn’t heavy, wet snow. Lots of lighter flurry days. We get the most snow in January, but it snows as early as October and as late as April here. For the last six years, I’ve had snow on my tulips (which makes my heart sing!)
    Pity you haven’t used your new toy yet. I hope if you get to, it will be on a leisurely weekend day 🙂

    Like

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