Reason Number 369 Why I Hate Writing

18 Dec

      Taking a quick glance through some old material posted on this website, I came across that most dread foe of writers, the typo. At least it’s a dread foe of neurotic, obsessive/compulsive writers such as myself who continually read and reread their own work to remove each and every little blunder before publishing it, not out of some faint desire to write the perfect piece but rather from a fear of looking foolish.
      In an entry from May 3, 2012 entitled “The Writing in Fighting” I addressed the dual questions of what were the best fight scenes in literature and what makes a great fight scene on the written page. To my horror, in my recent perusing of the entry, I noticed I had written the following: “The latter questions is, perhaps, the more difficult one to answer.”
      There it is! Did you see it?! You must have noticed the incorrect usage of the plural questions when talking about a single question (don’t bother fact checking the original entry – in true obsessive/compulsive behavior I instantly logged into the page and corrected it). Clearly, I meant to say “The latter question…” not “questions” yet, somehow, that capricious “s” found its way into the sentence. Just how does this happen? Whenever I write a piece, be it long or short, I am continually going through it looking for any small typo, grammatical error or other glitch. Okay, I have pretty much given up on proper punctuation (I’ll never figure out the correct use of the damn comma) but I continue to use the spell check on my computer religiously, then – because I don’t trust it – double check certain words with a dictionary. Yet, still, I am forever finding small errors in what I have written.
      I wish I could say this obsession with continually polishing my work is out of a sense of pride in my craft but, as I mentioned, rather it’s the product of a wish to not be thought of as a complete idiot by readers. What makes me uncomfortable when I find a mistake like the questions/question example is thinking about what goes through a reader’s mind when they catch these errors. Do they realize that such mistakes are really typos and that I do, in fact, know not to mix plural and singular usage in a sentence? Or do they think to themselves “Who is this guy to write about the art of writing? He can’t even write a correct sentence! Any idiot knows it should be ‘question’ and not ‘questions’ in that sentence. This fool needs to go back to high school English class!”
      Unfortunately, as any writer knows, no matter how much you polish your work, there will always be unnoticed errors that creep in (I’ve caught half a dozen so far, just as I write these few short paragraphs, and simply thinking about what else I may have missed is now sending me spiraling toward depression). That is one of the unpleasant realities you live with as a professional writer (along with writer’s block, small paychecks and occasional suicidal thoughts). All writers must deal with these realities in their own way. For me, I will continue to obsess on crafting my work as perfectly as possible, both in terms of content and form, because the alternative is too uncomfortable to contemplate. I was going to post this entry immediately, as soon as I finished a draft. But, on second thought, I think I need to reread it some more and look for errors. The annoying part is, I will not find them all.


2 Responses to “Reason Number 369 Why I Hate Writing”

  1. None Ya April 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Was duel a pun or did ya mean dual as in two?

    • Mark Jacobs May 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      “Duel” is now “dual.” Thank you for helping me make my point (and increasing my editing paranoia). Even my posts about editing need editing!

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