Sunday, September 12, 2004

Any Old Words Will Do


It's 1:41 a.m. and I'm hard at work on a corporate copywriting project. I have to admit that when I was a starry-eyed teenager sitting at my blue portable typewriter and dreaming of making my living as a writer, things like curriculum, press releases and advertising copy never entered my mind. For that matter, neither did newspaper stories, or even articles. Fiction loomed large in my mind, closely followed by what I did not then know were personal essays. I called them ramblings, because they were nothing more than random personal expression, and in those days no one ever dreamed that there'd one day be a market for them. At least no one I knew.

That was pretty much all there was...except of course, Rick Springfield's biography.

A funny thing happened as time went on, though. I began to realize that playing with words was...well, playing with words. Writing fiction and personal essays without restriction is great, but there's something to be said for the challenge of sculpting an interesting story out of a local business selling power washers or the ten billionth fundraiser at the local hospital. There's something to be said for being left alone in a room with nothing but words, and for having it be your job, your obligation, to focus entirely on those words. What could be better? It's like eating ice cream for a living, except that instead of getting fat and unhealthy (and eventually sick of ice cream), you just keep honing your craft and toning your mental muscles.

It doesn't get much better than that, I don't I'm cheerfully back to writing teacher's manuals, with no regard for the fact that it's 1:52 a.m. Tomorrow when the alarm goes off, I'll only be ten feet away from "work."

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