Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vicissitudes Of Writers And Wannabes



Writing a short story used to be such a simple task for me... and a most enjoyable one. I would just sit down at my old portable (manual) typewriter and start pounding the keys. More often than not I would continue for hours and hours until the entire first rough draft was finished. Of course, most of those stories died at that point. After the first flush of creativity was concluded I had little incentive to revise or rewrite, since I soon realized that my story was nothing more than a personalized re-hash of a short story I had read recently. Occasionally, though, I did succeed in writing an original story... and some of them were actually accepted and published.

But now the process is quite different. Now I brood for days, weeks, months, and even years on an idea before even sitting down in front of my computer's keyboard.

Even then, I just sit there staring at the monitor for a really long time before tentatively tapping out a sentence. Then I read that sentence, change a word here and there, add a phrase, remove a word, change another word, get up and brew a cup of coffee, go for a long walk, or take a nap.

When I return to the single sentence and again read it, I highlight it and angrily hit the delete key.

I wonder what ever made me believe that I could be a writer.

As I am preparing this blog entry I am listening to my local Talk Radio station (out of habit) and the Sunday morning show running at this time is some religious call-in program titled The Jesus Christ Show. And believe it or not, the host is supposedly Jesus Christ himself. Each segment opens with the man behind the microphone intoning:

"Welcome to the Jesus Christ Show... this is your holy host (pause) taking your calls."

A lady caller just said: "I would like to know if you could express to me the meaning of the body of Christ?" I thought her question was rather wordy, and I couldn't help revising (in my mind) her question to: "What does the body of Christ mean?"

Don't ask me why I am listening to such a silly radio program. That's not the point.

My point is: If I am not a writer, why then am I always examining, criticizing, and correcting overheard text -- or composing effective sentences of my own?

Why is that?

While reading The Writer's Almanac I learned that it was Washington Irving -- author of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow -- who coined one of New York's most enduring nicknames, "Gotham," which is Anglo-Saxon for "Goat Town," and which comes from a town called Gotham (GOAT-um) in Lincolnshire, England, which was famous for tales of its stupid residents.

The Almanac's piece on Washington Irving so intrigued me that I toddled on over to and downloaded one of his stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in the Kindle edition which was FREE, of course. It's been more than fifty years since I first read it, and I'm looking forward to the re-reading.

The Headless Horseman
(From The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)


a change or variation occurring in the course of something.
interchange or alternation, as of states or things.
vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs: They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years.
regular change or succession of one state or thing to another.
change; mutation; mutability.


Of course man was created before woman . . .there's always a rough draft before the masterpiece.

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