In a previous post I talked about a piece I had finished, and how unsatisfied I was with it:
I just finished a 5000-word piece. It came out in a very workman-like fashion, with little in the way of spark or brilliance. The parts that are a bit more lyrical will almost certainly get whacked into submission by the editors, who prefer muted shades of pastels to splashes (or slashes) of primary colors.
I've got to stop taking on these assignments. This just wasn't very much fun to write. It felt like drudgery, and I'm afraid it will come across that way.
I got the comments on my first draft back from the editors: "Beautifully written... looks really good - more of a first Final draft ... glad to be working with you again".
Q. If I was so unhappy with it, why were the editors so pleased with this piece?
A. BECAUSE IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED, YOU DOPE!
If I'd written it the way *I* wanted to write it, with lyrical turns of phrase that evoke love, loss and loneliness, they would have been really unhappy.
I was writing to a contract that called for dry prose, so I not only avoided adverbs in the writing of it, I carefully combed through it looking for adverbs I had missed. With great sadness in my heart, I went from cradle to cradle, and gently lowered a pillow over the wee sleeping face of each adverb, each parenthetical aside and each exclamatory phrase.
The end result met someone else's definition of near perfect, and that someone else was the editor.
The attentive student of writing will make note.