Writing, Editing, and Reading: September 21, 2015 Edition

manuscript critique of books, with beer

Photo © Keisuke Hoashi and Kristen Havens. All rights reserved.

Last week, I worked on a magazine pitch, website updates (my own), short fiction, and poetry. This week. . .


I’m finalizing an agreement to write 16 pages of short copy for a health-related website.

I’m also revising a short story and several poems while getting back encouraging rejection letters from literary magazines. Pro Tip: If you get a form letter saying something like, “This story isn’t quite right, but we like your writing, please submit again,” pin it to a cork board over your desk. The growing pile is a daily reminder that you’re on the right track–and also a reminder that you really do need to submit to that publication again.


Since finishing my last batch of career content for a client, I’ve had my copywriter’s hat on, creating website content for health companies. That’s one of the joys of freelancing–no two weeks are exactly the same.

If you need a professional bio, a LinkedIn profile, or an application essay critiqued or edited, please contact me. Career content edits are thoroughly enjoyable, and my clients usually feel the same way by the end of the process. (Here are some testimonials.)


Perfidia by James Ellroy for a book club. Hard-boiled crime is not something I’d normally pick, which is why I voted for it–one needs to stretch now and again.

I’m also picking my way through a couple issues of The New Yorker and was impressed by this eerie short story, “In the Act of Falling”, by Danielle McLaughlin. Here’s an interview where she talks about what it looked like in earlier drafts.

— Kristen

Client Praise: “I will be a medical student in the fall.”

Last summer, a new client contacted me through my website. His need: an exceptional personal statement for his medical school applications. For nearly a decade he’d been trying to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor, but health and financial setbacks had made him a nontraditional candidate, easy to overlook.

A career mentor suggested he hire a professional editor. He Googled and he found me. We worked together over a two-week period, passing drafts and notes back and forth. I read through a small but promising mountain of raw material and picked the most compelling parts of his personal story: anecdotes that emphasized his perseverance, compassion, real world work experience, and commitment to medicine. The results, as of this winter:

I gained an acceptance at ____ NYC. This was a school you helped me with! Thank you very much! I have gotten 4 interview requests. I turned down one, and have one planned in March. Overall, I cannot thank you enough! I am so lucky to have found you. I will be a medical student in the fall. If not in NYC then somewhere else.

What a rush, knowing that a simple edit can have such a huge impact on someone’s life.

Do you need help finding a common thread or a compelling story in your career experiences? I’m available to critique, edit, and coach your professional narrative, personal statement, executive summary, or LinkedIn profile. To see Testimonials on how I’ve helped others clarify their career stories, click here.