After 30 years of drafting and editing newspaper op-eds, columns and statements for California’s ballot booklets with their unforgiving word counts, I’m still obsessed with the number of words in each of my book’s chapters.
When I “complete” a chapter in my memoir about my work with Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, I perform an excruciating exercise: I try to cut 10% of my words without sacrificing clarity or rhythm. This forces me to defend every sentence, every word. If I can’t, out it goes.
This discipline has literally made my every word, uh, count!
Biography of Kelly Hayes-Raitt: Hayes-Raitt is currently counting and cutting words from her journalistic memoir Living Large in Limbo: How I Found Myself Among the World’s Forgotten while enjoying a month-long writing residency at the Art Factory in Białystok, Poland (www.artfactorybialystok.wordpress.com). Random House included three of her essays in June’s Female Nomad & Friends, an anthology of women connecting through traveling. She blogs at www.PeacePATHFoundation.org.