Saturday, June 8, 2013

Writing is the hardest thing I do

My trusty iMac
I don’t really know why I write. I don’t write quickly, except when I’m really pissed off or on a rant.

I’m a lousy typist. In college I was wedded to erasable typing paper, and later to the correcting tape in the IBM Selectric. I would take illegible notes; later I learned to transcribe quickly after interviews while I could still understand them. I still take illegible notes.

I’m a compulsive editor. Computers, with their ability to instantly correct any mistake, amaze me to this day. Control Z and the delete key are my best friends.

I’m fragmented. I move from one project to another constantly shifting gears. I was in the middle of reading an article about women’s writing and the idea for this article popped into my mind. Never mind that I have a couple of paying gigs in the hopper. Easily distracted: “That article on Yahoo looks interesting!” Or go off on a tangent researching an odd bit of information. Having lived pre-Internet, that ability still fascinates and thrills me.

I procrastinate. I write to a deadline. It’s the only way I’ll finish anything. I start and stop articles. I over-commit, then lie awake at night trying to figure out how to balance it all. And I feel guilty when I book off a night and watch television. Or play a game of Forty Thieves.

I live in fear that a typo will totally sink my career, so I scrutinize articles that I’ve published on WordPress or Blogger because I know they can be fixed… this in spite of the fact that I go nuts when I find typos in pieces published by other writers.

Despite the positive feedback and awards that I’ve received for my writing, I believe that one day, the gods will point at me and call me a fraud. 

I feel like I need to prove myself with each article I submit. I’m compelled to save everything that’s been published, like some hiring honcho will demand proof positive that I can write, even unto my first by-lined article – a theater review – written for my first real newspaper job in 1972.

I know my writing foibles and they make me crazy: typing a wrong, but similar word, forgetting the “s” or “ed” at the end of a word, dropping words altogether.

I’m not sure if the fact that I’ve been an editor for a good part of my career has made me a better or worse writer. Until recently, I thought “better,” but I’m beginning to think it slows me down. I see the volume produced by other writers and think that I should be producing more. I berate myself for not posting often enough on my two blogs – natch, Feb. 2 here.

So why do I write? As Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” I derive a certain satisfaction from looking at an article and thinking, “not bad.” And forgetting the self-doubt and procrastination that went into producing it.


Layla Morgan Wilde ( Cat Wisdom 101) said...

Writing may be hard but you make it look easy. I know my typos have driven you crazy more than once. Thank Cod for editors.

Deb Barnes said...

The thing is, much as we strive for perfection, none of us are perfect. Sometimes I proofread an article to the point my eyes feel like they are bleeding. I will publish it, and sure enough, find a typo. As you say, it is nice to be able to go back into WordPress to make the edit!

Even the best make errors - I know some very good authors and I am often appalled at the typos I find on their personal blogs.

It's such a different world now too - language has become so much more casual and loosely structured. Especially for us cat writers who have a tendency to integrate words such as cat, purr, and meow into other words!

Sally E. Bahner said...

True, ladies, true!