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.

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At June 10, 2013 at 12:58 PM , Blogger 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.

At June 10, 2013 at 10:22 PM , Blogger 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!

At June 19, 2013 at 2:52 PM , Blogger Sally E. Bahner said...

True, ladies, true!


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