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On Writing

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

A lot of writers say they always wanted to be writers.  Not me.  I’ve grown to enjoy the end product that results from writing, re-writing, editing, re-writing, etc.  But, frankly, I’ve always thought writing involved an awful lot of work to get people to understand what I am trying to say, when everyone involved would have a lot more fun if they just sat rapt at my kitchen table, asked me questions and listened to my answers until they got the point.  Of course, that would involve all the work of keeping my house picked up and the refrigerator stocked for guests all the time.  So, I suppose all the work to write down what I think accurately, is a fairly efficient way to communicate…

OK, so I didn’t always want to be a writer, but I always knew that if I were to write, only one kind of writing interested me:  writing about something ordinary and making it interesting.  I was reading a book of profiles by Susan Orlean last night (The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup) and she said that she became interested in writing when she read a profile about three property managers.  I totally want to read that article!

My mother is a writer.  When I was a kid, she mostly wrote what is called, “feature” articles.  Feature articles require the writer to highlight whatever is interesting about a subject:  even if the subject is a refrigeration system.  When one writes a news story, she gets to start with a story.  She may have to do a fair amount of work to determine the “angle” from which she wants to tell the story, but she does have the confines of the story with which to work.  The feature writer looks at something we all see every day and makes us see something new about it.  The first article I remember my mother writing was called, “Life is Sweet on Dempster Street.”

Whenever I write (or am on Dempster Street), I think of that title and I conclude that writing is worth all the work if I can cause any of my readers to see something sweet in something nearby.

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