A Profession That’s Perverse
If you are not writing to publish, please continue to do so. Writing is a perverse profession in that it is one filled with extremely deep, aggravating psychological and emotional valleys, followed by short, euphoric highs.
For the past ten days I have been engrossed in the former as I worked on three different writing projects, rotating between the first two, and now you are reading the third.
Before I leave town for ten days on August 12th, I wanted to get out an issue of the irregularly published print and PDF (Portable Document Format) version of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator. This entails locking myself in my writing room while I pour through a multitude of file folders filled with newspaper clippings, magazine pages, Internet materials and pages of my handwritten observations. Then I have to choose which of the dozens of topics before me seem to fit together, along with a lead story and a concluding profile.
The Student Prints
Since I promised a trilogy on education starting with my own, then as a professor, it was time to write the lead story about the students I have encountered in nearly thirty years of university teaching. Within my garage and office, I have five file drawers —not file folders — with observations, letters from students, faculty meeting notes, and articles relating to students from 1969 to 2008. At one time, I may have had twenty different sets of file folders spread out as I tried to find some logical order and make some sense out of this gargantuan accumulation.
You Have to Persevere
When I finally did, only then did I begin to write. Doing so is difficult at any time, even more so on a sunny summer day when it seems far more spiritually rewarding to sit in the backyard and listen to the soothing, flowing waters of our fountain and lazily read. I began to write and write, then I edit and rewrite, and then I rewrite again and again and again. There will never be a perfectly written effort, so after a week it became time to stop writing and move on to selecting the illustrations and feeding all materials to my designer and syntactical enhancer. Stephen is a genius and not only does the design but can take my writings and diligently tweak a word here or a sentence there to make it flow even better — and to precisely fit in twelve pages.
I reviewed the first PDF copy-only layout, and we spent an hour on the phone working out some of the kinks and eliminating excess verbiage, which means eliminating whole stories. At this moment I anxiously await the PDF in a more final form that will require another bit of tweaking before I can send it out to you.
A Huffington Post Script
When I felt overwrought and overworked concentrating on the Cogitator, I would turn to the Huffington Post where I have become a contributor and try and decide on a current topic that would first be challenging to write and also be acceptable to my blog editor. The semi-debilitating process is the same as with the newsletter. Go through files. Select topic. Write. Edit. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Then I make sure that it is no more than 800 words before sending it in for approval. I submitted the 784-word post entitled “Don’t Blame Palin, Blame Stalin” yesterday and it is up today. You can read my Huffington writings at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harvey-gotliffe-phd/
Thus Far, Have You Read This Far?
The brief euphoria comes in two stages — first when I see my writing published and then when someone comments on it, which is a rare occurrence. The comments can be positive or negative but at least they indicate that someone has read what you have written. How will I ever learn if you have read this?