Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
I finally got around to reading an article called “Fast Times” by Kristen Andresen in last August’s The Writer. ( Guess I’m just slow . . . no, wait! It got stuck in a 2‑foot‑ high pile of papers, newspapers, magazines and . . . maybe I’m just messy!)
Kristen talked about making a little extra $$$ on the side by “editing” (but actually re‑writing) her sorority sister’s papers before they were due. Her friend was amazed by how fast Kristen was, but she says “fast” was the thing that got her through college, majoring in journalism and both writing and editing for the school paper ‑ often until the very early hours of morning.
“Fast” also stood her in good stead when she transitioned into writing features and columns. Later she was able to handle several freelance gigs” to supplement her low‑paying day job, then astonished her bosses with speed when she went into PR and marketing. Much of this while blogging every morning before work, writing front‑of‑book columns for a magazine clients in the evenings.
She came to a screeching, nine‑month‑long halt — baby time! — and gave it up for a three year hiatus.
For the first time, when she returned to write, she was faced with the dreaded blank screen. And realized she was at a complete loss for words. She wrote three sentences over and over, catalogued all the ways in which she could fail, lost her edge, became acquainted with paralysis‑by‑fear, had re‑invented her rituals — and not in a good way.
Her new rituals needed to become fearlessness in front of the screen, adapting to feeling good about turning out 250 words at a time, writing whenever she had the time — if only for 5 minutes. Now it is sometimes painfully slow. But worth it: worth the beautifully rewritten sentence, the five‑minute brain dump, the partial paragraphs waiting for a finish.
I need to stop panicking too: I used to work fast, and it was with more than my writing: I finished my four‑year Bachelor’s Degree in three years; my two‑year M.A. in a year‑and‑half; the equivalent of a second degree in nine months, while teaching full time; and two certifications (in math, then ESL ‑ like picking up extra minors), each in eight weeks.
I’m slower now. I’m taking time to make my story right. My BOOK right. I only used to write short stuff: short stories, poems, plays. Now I’m writing books.
My books, YOUR books, deserve to be done by the tortoise, not the hare!
P.S. I loved the quote from Dave Barry, humor columnist, in the same page: “Panicky despair is un underrated element of writing.” And that can happen whether you’re fast or slow!
See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!