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Hard, Ain’t It Hard

September 25, 2012

I wrote a column for 11 years at a business magazine, where I critiqued TV commercials. My column was not ponderous or stilted, always humorous, and anytime I could work in the words kvetch or schmendrick I did. I love Yiddish. A colleague complimented me one day and said, “I love how you just dash these things off.”

I thanked her, but what I really wanted to say was, “Yes, I just dash them off in four hours.”

Writing a column is not a breeze, but it takes a lot of time to make it seem so. It never became easier for me to do the column for the magazine, and that was after writing a column for 10 years at one of the many newspapers I worked at.

I’ve been writing professionally for 40 years, and it never has gotten easier. That’s just not how it works. Every story, column, feature, editorial and analysis piece has different requirements and problems, and you approach each one as if you’ve never written a word before. The same is true of short-stories, novels and screenplays. My non-writing friends can’t believe how I struggle sometimes to find just the right words to describe a character or place, the weather, the time of day. I was also an editor for many years and tend to read my work as an editor would. The editor in me looks at the words the writer in me just wrote and says, “What a bunch of crap.” Then I rewrite it.

Sometimes I’ve been accused of being too harsh on myself when I tell friends that I want to get a sentence or paragraph or scene perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect, they say, because nothing is perfect.

That doesn’t stop me from trying, fool’s mission though it is.

The title of this post, by the way, is the name of a Woody Guthrie song.

One Comment
  1. Really like the overall look of your blog. Like the way you have touched on different topics related to languages. We here love languages as well.

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