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Scott Lax Blog

Editing in Life and Literature

One of the things that strikes me about Ted Kennedy's life and how he approached it, was that he believed that even with failings and flaws and tragedy, we can still attempt and sometimes do good works.

In view of writing, this holds true. I'm working on a book of short stories right now. One that I'm working on now, a 25-pager, calls me to edit it every day. I've made, I don't know, dozens, maybe a hundred plus changes. And I know that it will never be perfect, maybe never even be good, but I'll edit it until I think it's the best it can be. Then I'll let it go.

Even then, I'll know it could have been better. The publisher of THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED, Paul S. Eriksson, may he rest in peace, told me as my first novel was going to press, and I was begging for more changes, "There comes a time you have to let it go!"

Except Paul didn't exactly "say" it. He sort of yelled it. He was a grand and good man, with a passion for books, and he taught me a lot. So: my advice is to work and work on a project, and then let it go.

A work of literature is like being human: It will never be perfect.  Read More 

Ted Kennedy and His Legacy, Literary and Otherwise: May He Rest in Peace

I met Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who passed away today, on a few occasions, mostly at the home of his sister-in-law, Ethel Kennedy, widow of Ted's late brother, Robert F. Kennedy. The senator was larger than life, with a big, booming voice, a welcoming smile, and whatever tragedy he carried inside him -and he had had more than his share - he seemed to have put into compartments in his soul. I sensed that he had faith that he would be reunited with his loved ones: his brothers and sisters, among others, who went before him. He was a close friend of a close friend of mine, and though I didn't know Ted well, I was then, and remain now, in awe of his political skills and accomplishments. He cared about regular people - people without privilege, and the means that he had; people without inherent power, and those who just plain fell on hard times. He fought for human rights in many ways throughout his career, building bridges with Democratic and Republican senators, and moved his causes forward, inch by inch at times, and, sometimes, with bold action.

My friend Ron Powers (he was not the friend of Ted Kennedy's I mentioned) helped the Senator write his memoir, which will be out September 14. That pairing was fitting: Ron is one of the most brilliant nonfiction writers of our time.

I can't wait to read this book. I hope it helps people understand the man, and realize that Senator Kennedy's ambitions -- universal health care being at the top of the list -- were noble, even if the senator himself had his flaws and troubles, which were both freighted upon him and self-inflicted, which he acknowledged.

I'm glad I met him. Passing universal health care, I am certain, would be the legacy most important to Edward M. Kennedy. Andrew Young commented today that universal health care was, for Ted, a human right. I agree with that view.

May Edward M. Kennedy, a great, if flawed American, rest in peace.
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