The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tracy Seeley: There's No Place Like Home

      Tracy Seeley, author of My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas was kind enough to do a guest post today. She also generously provided a copy of her book to WOW-Women On Writing to give away in a random drawing and I was lucky enough to win it. 

photo by zzzrandyzzz (Randy Souther)

 Here is what one review said: "Tracy Seeley's My Ruby Slippers offers a graceful journey into the secret worlds of grief, illness, and ultimately, recovery. This is a wonderfully vivid and compassionate book, reminding us of how place can shape us and make us whole again." ­­ - Dinty Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire.

I cannot wait until I get the chance to read it; it was delivered this weekend. Memoir is my favorite genre to read. The idea of a journey that is healing intrigues me.

photo by shawncalhoun
Here is Tracy's post. If you tweet and want to follow her: @tracy_seeley
                                    If you "like" facebook, go to My Ruby Slippers:
                                                                                     The Road Back to Kansas
                                    On the web, go to

Revising: When You Love Your Words But It Just Isn’t Working

By Tracy Seeley (@tracy_seeley)

In writing school, one of the first things you hear is “kill your darlings.” It’s usually good advice. All those great turns of phrase, brilliant sentences, and witty puns? The ones you’re most attached to? They really have to go.

I don’t share such a brutal outlook all the time. At times the darlings work. But usually, we hang on to them far too long. We look at the pages and something nags: it just isn’t working. The “it” is often the darlings. We love them, they got us where we are now in this draft of things--and yet our story or essay or poem has outgrown them. It’s taken a different turn or grown in a different direction. It doesn’t need them anymore. Still we don’t want to see the lovelies go.

That’s why as writers, we need to be clear about which role we’re playing when: writer or editor? In truth, of course, we’re both, but at any given time in the creation of a work, only one of them gets to be boss. When we’re creating, crafting, imagining, then the writer gets the corner office. Playing editor at the wrong time can cripple us. We end up second-guessing ourselves and stop taking risks. When the writer works, the editor needs to go out for lunch. But later, when the time comes to read what we’ve written, it’s time to switch offices and let the editor be in charge.

With experience, the editor in us becomes highly skilled at pointing out what doesn’t work. She develops an uncanny ear for the clunky phrase, keen logical sense for structural flaws, and psychological radar for when a character’s run off the rails. And she sees right through your darlings.

With experience, the writer in us knows when to listen. When we hear that still, small, nagging editor’s voice that says, “Something isn’t working,” we carefully ponder her judgment, set aside our ego, and bow to the wisdom of the red pen. Reluctantly, of course, but maturely, we pack the darlings off to summer camp and wave wistfully goodbye.

Thank you, Tracy, for the great advice. It is indeed tough juggling the writer's duties and our job as editor. Good luck with your blog tour and your book signings.

In the below video clip, Tracy asks her readers, "What do you know about the place you come from?...How deeply do you delve?" Perhaps after diving into My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas, some of us will be inspired to take a journey to delve into what used to be "home."

Please leave any questions you have for Tracy in the comments section. Tomorrow, Tracy will stopping by Donna Volkenannt's blog.  There, she will be talking about what it is like to work with University of Nebraska Press, which  was her publisher. And as always, thanks for stopping by.

                                                                              video by Frederick Marx


  1. Hi Sioux. I saw this book somewhere .....maybe over at WOW, and of course I want to read it!...Memoir, ya know!

    Hi Tracey! I'd like to know how long you worked on your memoir until you "knew" it was finished? Thank you very much.

  2. Hi Sioux and Tracy,

    Thanks for such an informative post. It is so true that playing editor at the wrong time can be crippling.

    I'm at an advantage because I've been reading Tracy's memoir. Her book is one to savor rather than flip through quickly, so I'm taking my time and enjoying it to the fullest.

    Without giving too much away, I have to say that I love the way Tracy discovered her childhood addresses in her baby book and took off on a quest to find them. God bless Tracy for writing such an intelligent and though-provoking memoir and her mom for writing down those addresses down.

    And thanks Sioux for mentioning that Tracy will be my guest blogger tomorrow.

    Donna V.

  3. This book is something I will read, indeed. If I went back to my first address I'd be shot. But I often wish I could.

  4. Hi everyone, and thanks for your comments. Becky, I worked on 'My Ruby Slippers' for five years before I sent what I thought was my final draft to the publisher. They then sent it out to two readers, one of whom had some really smart suggestions for revising a few sections of the book. So I did that, and THEN it was done. And it was much better for those final changes, too. I'm a slow writer, and I have a full-time job, so it might not take everyone quite as long.

  5. Compelling and encouraging post. Can't wait to read this.

  6. Memoir is one of my favorite genres too and would love to read this. Great post, thanks for sharing both Sioux and Tracy!

  7. Sioux,
    Too bad I couldn't pick up that book and deliver it to you! It sounds good. I'm a sucker for memoir.

  8. Tracy, thank you for sharing that info! I don't think 5+ years is that long, and especially since you work full-time.

  9. Since I write my poetry in longhand, I find that wadding up the page and hurling it toward, but not into, the waste basket is a good way of revising. Sighing and cursing also helps, but upsets the dog.

  10. Good post, Sioux. Killing the darlings is certainly tough to do, but necessary. She's right, too--our inner editor tells us. I've noticed that often when I'm editing a piece to send for critique with my writer's group I'll find those "darlings." Inevitably, if I leave them in, at least one of my gal pals will find it and say, "Don't think you need this," and I'll think to myself, "Darn it, I knew that should go. Why didn't I just delete it?" Maybe I'll take this as my cue to start listening to my inner red pen.

  11. Fireblossom, I love your revision method. I'm going to adopt that. Thanks, all, for your comments.


Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...