Michael P. Cohen, Granite and Grace

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Writer: Michael P. Cohen, author of The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness (1984), The History of the Sierra Club 1892-1970 (1988), A Garden of Bristlecones: Tales of Change in the Great Basin (1998), and “Blues in the Green: Ecocriticism under Critique,” Environmental History (2004); coauthor of Tree Lines (2017).

Book: Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite (forthcoming from the University of Nevada Press in 2019).

My role:

  • I wrote detailed comments that suggested structural and rhetorical revisions, aimed to foreground the personal narrative, engaged in dialogue with the manuscript’s arguments, and raised questions large and small.
  • After Michael revised the manuscript in response to my comments, I edited it on the sentence level in keeping with its style and tone. I also standardized the endnotes and formatted the manuscript according to the press’s guidelines.

“Michelle Niemann is that great editor you thought you would never find. Her work excels on every level. She finds solutions to the largest structural problems, while paying attention to the minutia that drive every writer to distraction. Yet all this is done with such kindness and generosity that one never feels anything but gratitude. And she is quick too. She truly inspires confidence, never gives up, and always suggests viable options. As a lifelong teacher of writing, I can count on one hand those who successfully taught me. She is one of them. I don’t know how I got along without her for so long.

“This is what Michelle’s process did for my upcoming book Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite. She:

  • Pinpointed larger organizational issues that allowed me to re-order my text.
  • Identified redundancies and found appropriate places for misplaced material.
  • Caught incomplete and/or incoherent arguments.
  • Alerted me to sophistries and self-indulgences.
  • Noticed stylistic miscues.
  • Brought order to chaotic and sometimes incomplete endnotes.
  • Encouraged appropriate figures for the text.
  • Preserved the integrity of the text while the editing process was ongoing.
  • Produced, in the end, a polished and publishable manuscript.”

— Michael P. Cohen