Deborah Anderson

In 2000, Deborah Anderson left the medical field to care for her elderly mother. Soon after, she began writing. Her articles have appeared in Cross Times, Focus on the Family, Sisters in the Lord, Riders and Reapers, Rainbow Faith, FaithWriters’ Books, FaithWriters’ Magazine, and the bulletins for Dayspring Foursquare Church. She is a member of TWV, ACFW, CWG, and FCW and is currently working on her first novel. Married 29 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. She also spends her time rescuing cats, reading novels, and taking nature walks. You can contact Deborah at DAnderson955 [at] aol [dot] com.

War of the Words

Have you ever felt as though you don’t fit in with some of the people in this profession, that no matter what you do, others tower above, staring down long, judgmental ski slopes at you?

If you have, I understand. I, too, am one of those folks. In fact, I recently told a friend, “We’re working a tough crowd here, sister.”

And it seems it’s been this way my whole life. Very few people “get” my sparkling personality.

This had never carried over into the writing world, though, until recently, when I received several comments on one of my stories.

In one particular manuscript, my protagonist calls someone a “heifer,” and a “salty old ham,” (both in interior monologue). I honestly didn’t think anything about these comments because as a child, my best friend’s mother dubbed me with the nickname “heifer” (I ate like a cow and looked like a fencepost). As far as “salty old ham,” well, I made it up for someone with a snarky personality, like moi, so I never associated either with anything negative.

Anyway, the individual who read my work found my wording abrasive for the Christian market, said I should tone things down a bit, and informed me I should be more amiable.

Ahem . . . I thought I was being amiable.

The nerve.

So I decided to take the matter up with my husband. I’d like to think I’m not above correction if need be (insert laughter here), so I asked his advice.

I tucked my manuscript under my arm, walked into our office, and found him at his desk. “Honey, do you think I’m abrasive?”

Usually, he would stay glued to the monitor in front of him and toss me a verbal bone. This day, however, he whirled around.

A sly grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. “You’re kidding me, right?”

Things were not looking good for the home team.

I perched my hands on my hips. “Honey, I’m serious.”

He rubbed his chin. “Well, you do come off that way, Deb—”


“To people who don’t know you.”

Oh, that’s better.


I slapped my manuscript on his desk. “I quit.”

Did I mention I was bucking for the Academy of the Year award?

He held up his hand. “Whoa, what’s going on here?”

I pointed at my retired papers. “Read them.”

He picked up my manuscript, looked at the title, and said, “I already did.”

“Read it again . . . please.”

While he scanned the pages, I paced behind him. Soon after, he started laughing.

“Oh, great. You think it’s bad, too.”

He swiveled back around in his chair. “What are you talking about? It’s hysterical.”

I jabbed my finger toward the manuscript. “My language. Didn’t you read the comments?”

His eyes went wide, and he flipped through the papers again. “Where?”

God bless his heart. Have I ever mentioned how much I love him?

I leaned over his shoulder and found the line where my protagonist calls someone a “heifer” and stuck my finger on the paper. “There.”

Then I flipped to the page referring to “salty old ham.” “And right there.”

“That’s it?”


He looked up at me, fire in his eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Who told you this?”

I studied my blue-eyed, silver-haired knight in shining armor.

He clutched my work in his hand. “This is abrasive? Better tell them not to read Song of Solomon. They might have a meltdown.”

I folded my arms and nodded. Sic ’em, honey.

“Unbelievable,” he said, “For you, this is—”

I tapped my foot. “Amiable?”


I threw my hands in the air. “Exactly! But what am I supposed to do? Write the woman a letter and tell her every gruesome detail of my past?” Then I paced some more. “Do I have to tell others where I come from so they’ll get who I am?”

“No. God knows your heart, so you keep writing.”

I huffed. “I don’t want to anymore.” And puffed. “I’m tired of trying to make friends with these people. I’m tired of feeling as though others don’t like me.”

Whirling around, I went for lap two. “You know, this profession is the pits. What was I thinking when I got into this business? I’m done.”

Yeah, right. Like I’d never eat chocolate pudding or Texas cake again, either, but I knew in that moment I’d graduated from heifer to bull, and I was ready to charge.

My husband held out his arms, the brave man. “I like you.”

How dare he talk nice to me when I wanted to hurt somebody?

He smiled. “In fact, I love you.”

Dirty dog.

Crumbling, I walked over and fell into his arms, realizing I needed to order some cheese and crackers to go with my whine—all because of words.

Several months later, I decided to write on this very topic. Before I submitted my manuscript, though, I asked my husband to read it for me.

After he finished, he stared at the monitor. A puzzled look crossed his features.

My eyes darted between him and the computer. “What?”

“Nothing. I’m just thinking.”

I’d seen that look before, and the man wasn’t just thinking. “What’s wrong?”


I held up my hands. “What?”

“This doesn’t sound like your usual work. You sound kind of angry.”

I eyed the clock—fifteen minutes before my deadline—and shook my head. “No, I don’t. I sound like this all the time.”

No sooner had I hit the SEND button, I felt “submission remorse.” I didn’t know why at the time, but something bothered me. And it wasn’t because my sweetheart thought I came across angry. Was it?

No. It wasn’t.


A few days later, we sat in the office talking. “It’s still bugging me about my submission,” I said, fingering my lip. “Are you sure you don’t think the word heifer is bad?

His chair squeaked as he turned around. “No, I . . . I just thought of something.”


“What if the person who made those comments had weight issues? It would hurt somebody’s feelings.”

Now the man tells me.

My eyes widened. “I never thought of that.”

And I couldn’t stand to think I might have hurt somebody.

I fired up my computer and reread the article. I cringed. Not only did I think it would hurt someone’s feelings, I did come across angry. You know, as if I was standing on top of some judgmental ski slope or something, beating those below me with a big stick.


I e-mailed my publisher, asking if I could send a revised version. And do you know what she said?

Well, the answer was obviously a gracious “yes,” or you would have been reading an entirely different article right now. Whew.

Oh, the word heifer will not remain in my manuscript. I’m not sure about “salty old ham,” since it deals strictly with attitude, but I’ll shelf it for now.

And in the future, I’ll consider the words of others when they comment on my manuscript.

Ain’t life grand?


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