Facing the facts

Even as a writer/editor of some years’ experience, I still face stage fright when pursuing a new avenue and a new contact. It’s so easy to become comfortable in the small niche you create and to become lazy about pushing yourself to think beyond the usual interests. It’s especially hard to think like a journalist when I tend to think like an educator and literary scholar. This is not meant to sound superior or so profoundly separate, but my type of curiosity is not quite the same as one who loves to find the next lead.

And, like many of us, I think I am what has been called a writer with a short attention span. Some topics, no matter how important or timely, just don’t hold me beyond the initial idea. Really, many of us are idea people who prefer to delegate the dirty work to others. That is what makes me a great editor frankly. I can plan, organize, assign, and meet deadlines more happily when I am delegating the minutia to my freelancers and colleagues. Still, I do love to write and if it’s a topic I can relate to, I love to find an angle with which to work on it.

Susan Sontag inspired me once some time ago when I heard her state in an interview that she had an idea for a book (I think it was about a Japanese opera singer) but just did not want to do the research. Wow, if she admits to dreading the work, the rest of us have some hope.

I also remember Neil Gaiman stating that he was overwhelmed at times while writing his upcoming book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and blaming his agent (or editor-I don’t quite remember) for “making” him do this. Writing can be so traumatic and so rewarding. It’s really like an addiction. You can’t do without it but it does not always offer the high you were looking for.

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