Exactly–not 499, not 501. That was the challenge put out by Marco Polo Arts Magazine last year. I thought it would be a terrific editing exercise, and it was: slicing and dicing a 3000-word essay down again and again, until it was just a shadow of its former self, while trying to keep the essence intact. Writing in the second-person plural was my other challenge with this piece, using the voice of “we”–a kind of Greek chorus–that I so admired in The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.

The result is “Kissing Frogs,” linked here, which was one of the winning pieces and just published. It’s about online dating–a true story, though fortunately not my personal experience; I’m just a bystander, coach and chronicler, one of the chorus. Names and identities have been changed to protect all of us.