An hour or so ago I finished writing what was to be this blog. I set it aside to watch a couple innings of the Dbacks/Reds game, then returned to it to see what sort of mess I’d created. As messes go, it was wonderful. As entertainment, it wasn’t so good. I deleted it. And so here I am, giving it another go. I’m not upset over the wasted time, or pissed that I’ve got to come up with something else to write about. I’m actually grateful.
There aren’t many pursuits that allow for unlimited second chances. Tripped-up athletes need to wait for another season, chefs who can’t discern between Roquefort and the less wholesome kind of mold hope for an uninformed restaurant to give them a fresh shot, and miscalculating surgeons need to move to another state, or maybe take a job as an exterminator.
But writers get second chances. Actually, writers are given an unrestricted number of opportunities to make their work perfect. Aside from journalists working under a tight deadline, or Final Jeopardy contestants forced to scribble a correct response in thirty seconds, writers can take a timeout, hit delete, and start over. It can be a frustrating process, sure, but I’d be willing to bet there aren’t a lot of writers who move on to become exterminators.
I shouldn’t have written that last sentence. I don’t mean to disparage in any way those employed in the extermination industry. It’s a difficult job, and quality exterminators are both skilled and knowledgeable. But I’m not going to delete the sentence. I’m trying to make a point, and besides, I’ve already deleted an entire blog, and I just don’t have it in me – which, I guess, is the point I’m trying to make.
I’m just a guy trying to fill a page. I’m not trying to make a grand statement. I’m not trying to reinvent anything. I’m not even sure anyone reads anything I write. What a lot of us don’t get is that we’re all writers. Whether we’re texting, emailing, or dashing off a grocery list for ourselves, it’s called writing. And unless we’re sending anonymous spam out to the world, our name is on everything we write, whether we paste it on the page or not. It’s called ownership. Why then are most of us so careless when it comes to writing?
I’m not exempt from this laziness. I’ve dispatched plenty of cringe worthy memos and emails over the years. I’ve hit send many times when I shouldn’t have, when I should have taken a few seconds to look at what I wrote, to see if there were any typos, or if it was readable, or if it made any sense at all. But I’m working on it. Unless Alex Trebek is awaiting my quick response (the impossible for anyone but him to correctly pronounce one), I’ll walk away from what I’ve written, maybe watch a couple innings of a baseball game, and then come back to what I’ve written. It’s hardly ever good (the writing, not the game). It always needs fixing.
I don’t like to be preachy; it’s just that I’m tired of trying to figure things out. Nobody should have to waste time wondering whether the blog they’re reading is about how mascots belong in collages or colleges; I think it could be either. Nobody should be forced to read a run-on sentence that only make sense to the person who wrote it down the road they will certainly become frustrated while doing the same.
Anyway, I suppose I should rewrite the blog I deleted earlier, but the Dbacks/Reds game has ended, and I need to post something quick, something that doesn’t require another look. Sorry for the mess.
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Harry Margulies is the author of The Knowledge Holder and the recently released The Weight of the Moon. When he’s not writing about romance, money, women, and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about, he’s frittering his precious time as a cartoonist.
Photo Credits: Jeopardy board photo courtesy of SethAllen623, Alex Trebek photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television