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Since I’ve been gone….

In the seven days since I last posted, I’ve thought about a lot of things to write. Ultimately, however, I couldn’t get myself to write them out loud because a lot of what I was thinking felt too much like crying over milk that was spilled decades and decades ago. So I decided to just keep silent in the blog, though I have continued to do my morning journaling every day.

I don’t know what to write now—I’m so tired from an unexpectedly long day that included travelling to downtown DC for the first time since surgery—but I feel like if I don’t write something today, then it’ll be December and I’ll have wretchedly few days checked off on the calendar on which I’m tracking the days I’ve blogged.

I think maybe I’ll just leave you with this photo I took yesterday. What I love about it is how much personality the tulip has. I haven’t quite made up my mind if it’s leaning its head on the wall’s shoulder cause it’s lonely or tired or melancholy. Or maybe it just feels like flirting with the wall. Whatever it’s feeling, this image reads to me like everything I’d want to say in a poem if only this weren’t one of those days when words simply cost too much.

SadTulip

The Best Article I Never Wrote…Sigh…

Photo on 1-4-13 at 6.33 PM

Here I am hard(ly) at work at my kitchen/dining/library table.

I don’t want to write today, which is a problem since I get paid to write. In fact, I’ve been paid to write since I started my job in 2005. And while I’m happy that writing and editing is now 100% of my job (it also used to include pitching reporters), the change hasn’t done anything at all to lessen the fact that I’m still 100% terrified every time I have to write another article. I enjoy the interviews—mostly.* But when it comes to looking at the transcribed text, finding the story, and figuring out how to get it on the page, I do an immediate about-face from seasoned professional to champion procrastinator. Yes, yes, I do start every new article with “Shitty First Draft” as prescribed by the brilliant Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, but that doesn’t stop the text dancing before my eyes as if it’s all suddenly a foreign language. I’ll have a vague recollection that I understood the topic when I was asking questions, but at the moment I have to start to write, it’ll seem like a dream I only half-remember.

I think part of the issue is that my brain skews toward the instinctive rather than the analytical. I’ll find the story if I can meander my way toward it, but given the limited time in which I (and the other writer) have to turn around articles and given that we’re writing long-form amidst doing all the other writing and planning work for our social media platforms, meandering is not an option.

Did I mention that I’m a champion whiny procrastinator? By the way, if anyone leaves a comment suggesting I outline or do any of that stuff that people with linear brains do—I.Will.Cut.You.

Sigh…

While the blank page is terrifying even when it comes to my personal writing, there’s something exponentially frightening about writing fact-based pieces. For one thing, what if I misinterpret the facts? Or forget to include a crucial point? Or write the wrong story? Like the time I wrote a wonderful piece about Nikki Giovanni for NEA Arts and then had to rewrite it because I’d glossed over her journey from her early days as a writer to today… which was the point of the magazine….and was also my idea for the magazine theme.

And once I get a coherent story down on the page, what about the polish? It takes me weeks and months (and well, years if you include the short story I’m currently working on) to get to a place where I feel my prose sparkles. I’m fairly good with quickly getting my sparkle on with Twitter or a blog post—that poem training comes in handy—but I just don’t have the same facility when it comes to long-form writing. Which means that while I turn in good stories, I never feel like I turn in great stories, the kind where the style shines as much as the content.

Well, thanks for listening. Time to get back to my writing procrastinating. Sigh….

*I always have that brief moment of fear that the person I’m interviewing will think I’m hopelessly thick. Kindly, most everyone either, at some point, praises the quality of my questions or laughs at one of my quips.
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