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In so many words, I would like to express why I don’t have words | Tish Gregory
When is a commentary not a commentary? Answer: when the commentator comes down with a familiar sickness for writers called “writer’s block.”
Not that there isn’t plenty to comment on. But despite all the important events and issues that affect our lives today, it seems when you talk to people the first thing on their mind is – the weather. Everyone has a comment on that, so who needs mine?
It may appear to the reader that writing for a newspaper or magazine is relatively easy – you just write what you see (a reporter), explain what you see (an editor or commentator) or help others to see the world around them (a columnist).
But it’s not the same for everyone. First, there are the professionals who have perfected the art of visualization through words. Articles in the Renton Reporter, written by reporters Tracey Compton and Adam McFadden; columnist Carolyn Ossorio and editor Dean Radford, always impress me. As a writer, I’m envious of how effortlessly clear and fluent they inform and entertain the reader. Even the noise and activity of a newsroom and the pressure of deadlines don’t seem to throw them off their game.
Then there are writers, like myself, who need lots of time and silence to write. For me, it’s a long road once that “Pulitzer Prize” thought enters my mind, travels across the shoulders, down the arms, reaches the fingers and is typed safely into the computer. Any interruption along the way – like a voice from the living room “What’s for dinner?” – and the thought is instantly gone. As hard as you try, you can’t remember the exact words and the rewrite is not the same.
To complicate things, brainstorms come at all times of the day or night, especially in the absence of pen, paper or computer. The term, “hold that thought,” takes on a whole new meaning and challenge for me.
My newsroom is my home where my desk and computer were once located on the main thoroughfare that connects the bedroom to the kitchen and living room. Finding it hard to concentrate with the TV on, refrigerator door opening and closing, the dog wanting to go in and out, my husband chatting every time he passed me, and the phone ringing, I felt a change was in order.
The only extra room in the house that had four walls and a door was my husband’s “man cave.” So I asked to make it part “she den” thinking this would give me the time and solitude I needed to write.
But they always find me and what once was considered an out-of-the way destination has now become a major detour for my husband and dog.
My dog likes this new arrangement and encourages me to write. If I’m not pounding the keys every morning, she will go in and lay by my computer and “wuff” until I do. Her quiet presence, as she lies at my feet, helps me to relax and write.
On the other hand, my husband doesn’t quite understand this sudden need for solitude. “Are you in there again?” he asks. “Are you still working on that same article?” “Isn’t that about the 30th time you’ve rewritten it?”
I try to explain that Dean only allows me 600 words and I’m already at 3,127.
But despite the obstacles, I love writing and am fortunate to have this opportunity to share my thoughts with you – even though this month’s had a lack of substance.
The good news is I think my writer’s block was only temporary. I’m already on my 30th rendition of my May commentary. But, besides my husband and Dean, who’s counting?
Tish Gregory is a free-lance writer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.