Friday, July 26, 2019

A Writer's Many Caps

This was a very busy and frustrating week and I'm glad I have a little time left to get this post together. I've been wearing a lot of caps lately, doing all those things that writers do - polishing a story for a quarterly writing contest, putting together a manuscript for publication, doing some multimedia work for yet a different project, a little field research for a manuscript still in progress, and digging through the archives of my late mentor, Newton Berry, trying to find his last works. All in all a very busy week.

The busy part is obvious, but you may have already noticed the frustrating part - none of those tasks actually involve that fun part we call writing. I didn't have the chance to wear my writer's cap all week. Editing is not writing, reading is not writing, researching is not writing. Nothing is writing except for writing, and that can be disappointing. Don't be alarmed though. That's what happens.

I've never had a job where the official title described what I would do most of the time. During my twenty-year career as an analyst, the actual analyzing part was there, but I mostly did other stuff. Four to five hours a week in meetings, mostly listening. A similar amount of time with bureaucratic BS. Supporting other departments. Trying to get some resources to do my thing. Explaining to other departments what I actually do. Making all my analysis look presentable and placing it in all the appropriate files and inboxes (electronic and otherwise). And then a little time actually being an analyst. However, this was all very important in the bigger picture, and it prepared me for life as a writer.

You see, even as a writer, sometimes I don't want to write. Whatever the reason may be, sometimes that writer's cap doesn't fit. On these occasions, I am very happy to edit the last thing I wrote, outline what I might want to write, or do all the things that don't involve much creativity but still support my writer's existence. It helps carry the weight that comes with that quiet responsibility of being a good writer.

I also keep one other thing in mind: All those little things that need attending to will really get in the way when I want to sit down and write a few chapters. Nothing's worse than wanting to sit down and create some reality but then realizing that one deadline won't adjust itself, or the next five phone calls will be from the author of that manuscript you promised to proof. It happens in all careers. I used to nestle up with my databases, get out my technical books, put on my analyst cap, and prepare to do some deep data analysis only to have someone's head poke into my office and say, "Meeting with Foreign Exchange on the twelfth floor, bring your lunch!"

I would hear that and hate meetings, hate the Foreign Exchange department, and hate the twelfth floor. I wanted to analyze. And I would put away my analyst cap and go to the meeting, pouting like a child.

The point of all this is that writing of any kind will at times be frustrating. It will be that thing you want to do and can't, which is a good sign in its own way. And the more you enjoy writing and get into all that it offers, the more times something will get in the way when you just want to write.

Frustration is part of the game, but it makes writing time that much more important. I'll conclude on that note, and if this post seems a little short, it's only because I have some editing to do before I can get more writing in.

4 comments:

  1. This reminds me of the idea: if we had no cloudy days, we wouldn't appreciate the sunny ones.

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    1. And when all we see is clouds, we need to remember the sun is still there...

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  2. Thank you so much for this dissertation! I need to read these words today as they are so very true....
    *Pasco Pam*

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    1. Glad they moved you. I think every writer goes through those days, so it helps when we know we are not alone

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