The Devil is in the details: why paying attention is important

-sigh-

So there I was, patting myself on the back for having a completely kosher for Passover kitchen a full 5 days before the holiday, when I sat down to dinner with the kids for their first dinner cooked in that kitchen.

I’m not so into convenience foods at any time of year, let alone at Pesach, but this year, I decided to get on box of kosher for Passover fish-stick-thingies and one bag of frozen fries. Add some broccoli, and there’s a great pre-Passover dinner, right?

Dinner went over okay. But after dinner…

If only I had read that label!

You see, the company whose fish sticks we prefer both at Pesach and year-round changed their recipe. Now it had eggs in it, but I neglected to read the ingredient label and didn’t notice. One of my children is allergic to eggs, which meant that tasty, quick dinner was not destined to stay in her tummy.

Thank G-d, after Benadryl and a nice hot shower, she’s feeling much better.

Why paying attention is important for writers:

Things change. Not just labels, but technology, submission rules, trends, tastes, editors…if anything is predictable in life, it’s that things will change. You just don’t know the direction of that change unless you pay attention.

If a magazine switches to accepting pitches rather than full articles, you’ll have to do things differently.

If the editor changes, you’ll have to address your cover letter differently and cater to the new recipient’s tastes and preferences.

If readers are less satisfied with recent material than with past examples, you need to consider why.

You get the picture.

Actual writing is the most important aspect of being a writer. But it is not the only thing a writer must do. They have to pay attention to the market, their clients, and their readers. It’s all part of being a professional.

Did you ever forget to pay attention and pay the price? Share your anecdote in the comments.

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