Here is a tip for writers. It is something I knew (“show, don’t tell”) and tried to observe in writing the piece I have just finished. But not enough, apparently.
My editor, one of the best there is in journalism, emailed me this:
I think the emotional pitch of the vocabulary needs to be turned down a little. The subject-matter is so emotionally strong that it will work better if the tone is flatter. It needs fewer words like “pain” and “vulnerable”. I feel the pain and sense the vulnerability more acutely if I’m allowed to discover them by myself.
I did as she said. The piece is much more powerful as a result. Lesson: let the details provide the color, and never interrupt the story they tell.