Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoughts while virtually away

If you ever want to feel like a really lousy writer, and face it, who wouldn't aspire to that lofty goal, try churning out three, five, seven articles a day.

Journalists can do it, but that’s because they're journalists -- they want to do it, they’re trained to do it. Besides, they've got their game face on. If you don’t have a game face and you’re a writer and enter into this line of work, even for a brief window of time, the sheer speed and volume of it all makes you cheat -- plagiarize and parody yourself, until after one very short while, you can’t stand the sound of your own voice. On paper.

But back to journalists. The daily grind journalists. They start a piece with some alarmist verbs, and then, when no one’s looking, kick off their shoes, pull up a chair, and settle back comfortably with a pipe and slippers while readers still sift through the wouldarewerewasis’s of the story.

I respect them, or envy them, or maybe both, maybe neither; does it matter?

When it comes to writers, and they are writers because they write, the daily feature fellas, online now, mostly, they’re the marathoners. No hurdles, pole vaults, high jumps from that quarter; but lord knows, they do go on and on.

Not much of a life for a sprinter, though.

26 comments:

  1. It's not for me. I like to edit. This comment started out seven sentences long.

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  2. I'd be hopeless. It takes me hours to do one blog post by the time I fluff around and tweak every nook and cranny. I'm glad you're only virtually away.

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  3. I did the journalism thing for a small weekly paper years ago. But being a weekly, I didn't have to whip out the stories like the reporters for the dailies. I'm like Petrea and Shell; it takes me a while to do a blog post -- even to write a comment.

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  4. I see I committed the sin of Bad Grammar in my comment. It should read: "Because the paper came out weekly, I didn't have to whip out the stories like the reporters for the dailies."

    I never have been, nor will be, "a weekly."

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  5. All my life writing has been second nature to me. Now I find myself months overdue on an article about my own photography.

    If I had to depend on writing to put food on the table, these would be lean times indeed.

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  6. "parody yourself, until after one very short while, you can’t stand the sound of your own voice. On paper."

    Not just on paper, my dear. YouTube has become too much MeTube. The room full of me is getting clausterphobic and I've lost the keys to get out of here.

    Journalists don't have that problem, do they? They aren't writing about themselves.

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  7. Sure, they may churn out a few a day, the ones I can't stand are the ones who get so flowery in their writings that you feel u have to wade through them to find whether they are writing what is real or what they have dreamed up... I remember when I was in college being told to drop all the adjectives.. to get to the crux of the point... be direct... funny how that applies to how one should be in life.... btw, your posts always come off w/ease.. :-)

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  8. As long as the first couple of paragraphs have all the information in then you can put any old crap n the rest of the article. Chances are people get bored and don't read it all anyway.

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  9. My only experience with journalism was in junior high, and those were "who-what-where-when-why-how" days. Everything you needed to know in the first paragraph(s).

    BTW, I was co-editor-in-chief of the school paper; the other editor was male. (It worked about as well as you would imagine, having two heads.)

    The female teacher didn't seem to believe in letting a girl be in sole charge. Some things are better now, for sure.

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  10. You all made my morning. I really missed you guys. Just one more week on the virtual road. But fuck the morning deadline, I'm grabbing a cup of coffee and visiting your blogs. Right now.

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  11. I feel like a lousy "writer' just by churning out One blog post every week or two, or three. And from what I read here, compared to this dog, y'all are wonderful writers and journalists.

    I'm gonna grab a cup of coffee too, from a new place. Let y'all know how it was.

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  12. The problem with Karen is she just can't let herself be boring, she's too dedicated. People will read on after the first two paragraphs, and she will deliver something fine for them to read, wacky fool that she is.

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  13. I mean Karin. Karen is a fine writer, too.

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  14. When I really want to write, I need a pad and #1 pencil. I can set the world on fire with that little graphite stick. But most of my writing is dull, technical stuff. Great sleep aids.

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  15. Keep running fast.

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  16. Wire service journalists and people working on news blogs are typically the only ones who have to churn out half a dozen pieces a day, thank goodness.

    Even at a small daily, where I started, we weren't expected to do more than 3 pieces - one real story and a couple of briefs maybe - a day.

    It's an adrenaline rush, frankly, and you can get addicted to working on deadline. (Or I did, back when.)

    Much more satisfying to develop a big idea and have at least a day or two to research and write it well, in the long run.

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  17. Catch your breath, kiddo. We look forward to watching your sprint.

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  18. I've never observed journalism from the inside, so I'll stick with my uninformed, unoriginal maxim: speed is the enemy of quality.

    Ms M, I didn't know anyone knew such things anymore, never mind being able to catch oneself at it. Way to go. When people say that's the small stuff, a concern for small minds only, I say if we can't count on you to master most of the finer points of your own language, what can we count on you for? Careful thinking? Not likely.

    So, Karin, do I infer correctly that you've been away in order to engage in real journalism?

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  19. I confess I never considered the difference. I wonder if it's a matter of temperament and if the pram in the hall figures into it? But Connolly had a lot of interesting quotes.

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/cyril_connolly.html

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  20. I'd like to hear more about your virtual absence. I'm just back from a two week reading deprivation exercise. It was more difficult than I thought it would be and I didn't experience the aha's I had been led to believe I would. Nonetheless, interesting.

    I've claimed the title Writer a few times, yet there are so many occasions when I just fall silent. No words come, no matter how much I'd like to write. Does that make me a failed writer or an introspective one, waiting on my muse?

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  21. I used to do a lot of technical report writing. It was a job and I approached it like one. To write for myself however, is a different ballgame altogether. For some reason, it's much harder for me.

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  22. I could use some of those journalistic chops these days, seeing that I haven't posted on my blog since mid-June, and even then it was just some Tommy Lee Jones gags.

    "Journalistic chops" - that's not correct, is it? One of you grammarians, help me out, please.

    Ok, now I'm tired of my own voice.

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  23. Any rooftop gardens out there?

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  24. Give me a research paper or some such thing and I can write just fine...but when it comes to creative writing...I come here!!!

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