Saturday, October 3, 2009

Writing: A Love-Hate Story

Writing: A Love-Hate Story
By Michael P. Geffner

I used to think that I was the only writer in the world who hated writing as much as I loved it, who would invent new forms of procrastination just to keep from doing it, who would curl into fetal positions at the thought of an impending deadline, who would go into a cold sweat trying to figure out how to start the thing. I’ve since come to understand that there’s not a writer alive who doesn’t feel like I do. That as much as they revel in the process, they suffer just the same.

The following is a 10-point list of what I love and hate about what we all can’t stop doing, no matter how much it hurts sometimes:

What I love

1) The freedom of expression, letting my thoughts burst forth unimpeded, and, on that rare occasion, finding that glorious flow, as if I were, to borrow a line from the movie Amadeus, taking dictation from God.

2) Researching for hours and hours and hours before finally unearthing that singularly wonderful fact that changes everything.

3) Polishing, altering things again and again, if not spending an hour doing nothing more than inverting just two words. Absolute joy!

4) Interviewing people who have been interviewed countless times but getting them to say something different, shocking, if not profound. The thought of it gives me goose bumps.

5) Finding the different word that stretches the reader's mind. Makes my day.

6) Entertaining readers with my unique style. I admit it: I'm a ham and I pride myself on having an instantly recognizable style.

7) Becoming known for my work, both inside and outside the business, and establishing a solid reputation.

8) Seeing a new story in print for the first time and just staring at it with pride. Nothing like it. After 30 years of being a professional writer, this never gets old for me.

9) Receiving feedback/letters/etc. that tells me that my story moved them in some way, made them laugh or cry or think or re-think, etc. It’s why we all do it, right?

10) Getting paid for doing what I love. Excuse the cliché, but you can't beat that with a stick.

What I hate

1) The dread of coming up with that first line. Facing that blank screen/page trying to fill that god-awful emptiness with something compelling. OMG! The cold sweat of it.

2) Deadlines. Although without them, I wonder if I'd ever finish anything. A necessary evil, I guess—at least for me.

3) Editors who don't understand my genius. Such idiots! LOL

4) Rejection of any kind, including requests that I rewrite things. Ruins my day.

5) Waiting to hear back from editors after you've submitted something. It's the proverbial dying a thousand deaths.

6) Horrible editing that compels me to cringe when I read the story in print, if not to make an angry call to the guilty party screaming words I cannot mention here.

7) Hate mail. But it comes with the territory. I’ve learned to deal with it.

8) Fighting for the right word/words and not finding it/them. Nothing drives me crazier.

9) Thinking about the story so much, it makes sleep all but impossible.

10) Writing badly. Nothing depresses me more.

There you have it. I’d love to hear yours. In fact, send them to me (at mgeffy@gmail.com) and I’ll publish them on this blog.





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5 comments:

Heather Kephart said...

Love it! I'm learning to write & your blog will be be both a source of information and relief.

Gayle Hedrington said...

OMG Mike if I didn't know better, I'd swear you were inside my head last night.

I'm working on a story a wonderful story and it took me hours of procrastinating to start. I was finally in the zone of writing, but I had to stop to go to a meeting.

The worse thing was the meeting was canceled and no one informed me. I went back home, and could not return to the place I'd been earlier.. so the procrastinating started again. I had coffee, took the dogs out, reread my notes, checked my email, went on facebook, went on twitter.. three to four hours passed and I was back in the zone, but it was 1:30 a.m.

I put my article to bed actually a nap at 3;30 a.m. and now I am back at the procrastinating sitting by an indoor pool, checking, my email, facebook and twitter...

Your article is so true. I can research for hours... Writing is like labor.. it's not the process I love but the birth of the article that gives me a high like no drug could ever reach...

GREAT ARTICLE

Gayle Hedrington said...

OMG Mike if I didn't know better, I'd swear you were inside my head last night.

I'm working on a story a wonderful story and it took me hours of procrastinating to start. I was finally in the zone of writing, but I had to stop to go to a meeting.

The worse thing was the meeting was canceled and no one informed me. I went back home, and could not return to the place I'd been earlier.. so the procrastinating started again. I had coffee, took the dogs out, reread my notes, checked my email, went on facebook, went on twitter.. three to four hours passed and I was back in the zone, but it was 1:30 a.m.

I put my article to bed actually a nap at 3;30 a.m. and now I am back at the procrastinating sitting by an indoor pool, checking, my email, facebook and twitter...

Your article is so true. I can research for hours... Writing is like labor.. it's not the process I love but the birth of the article that gives me a high like no drug could ever reach...

GREAT ARTICLE

Rendezvous said...

Hate mail is motivating! LOL! Its great to know that even accomplished writers are still waging the love/hate battle. I thought I was domed but . . . perhaps there is hope after all. Thanks!!

valentinedefrancis said...

After reading your article on your 'love--hate' relationship with writing, I found that I had a something to add.

If anyone knows the love--hate relationship of writing, it's me. I've often wondered if I was the only one who felt this way. After reading what you've written, I just let out the biggest sigh of relief. I'm happy to know that I'm not alone---seriously happy.

I don't have too much to add to what you've listed, because honestly, you've covered alot of turf, but here's what I hate about writing. I find that when I write randomly, meaning, that when I'm inspired by the ocean, for example, then the words pour out of me with absolutely no resistance whatsoever. And I can do that all day. But when I'm structured by a storyline, I'm like a maniac whose forgotten to take their medication. I get up from the chair, pace, then sit down. I get one word written, then I get up from the chair and grab a snack. And I continue this all day long until I've eaten everything that isn't nailed down. I mean seriously . . . if I could write with the same focus that I have with eating, I'd have more than two books written.

The love aspect of writing has to do with getting my intricate thoughts out of my mind and onto the canvas where others can view it. Often I find that I paint a picture with my words better than speaking my ideas, so writing is my medium of indelible truth.

Valentine deFrancis