Friday, January 8, 2010
Yes, It's Hard...Really
Last night I was able to prove to my wife that yes, writing is hard. What made it more hilarious (to me anyway) was how the topic came up. You see, my wife is working on her Bachelors degree in Accounting. Like most other undergraduate programs, she has to go through an English/writing class. Her school (WGU, which happens to be where I graduated from as well) has her take a pre-test first to assess current knowledge. If she did well enough on it, it would be the equivalent of passing a final exam and she could skip taking the class. So as she was working her way through the questions, she asked me for help with one.
Now before you all stab me with spears, no I did not help her cheat on the test. Even though there is nobody monitoring her taking an online test, I refuse to help her cheat. And yes, I love her more than life itself, but too bad.
The question was similar to the following (not exactly, but you'll get the idea):
"Annie wanted to go to the movies, but she had chores to do. Annie's mother explained that once she was completely finished, she could go. So Annie worked harder, and soon enough she was heading out the door, whistling a happy tune"
In the paragraph above, identify the word that is an example of a redundancy.
I'm going to leave the answer to the question for commentors. First one to answer it correctly gets super cool bonus points, along with a virtual awesome writer trophy. Plus you can brag to all your writer friends. Really.
I did not tell her the answer, nor did I even tell her how to find it. But I did help nudge her in the right direction so that she could understand what they were asking for.
This then opened up the conversation on why writing is hard, even for us writers. I explained that this is the type of thing I have to go through on a daily basis, every time I sit down to write. I have to choose the right words. I have to make sure I'm not wasting words or using three words when two will suffice. The lightbulb over her head turned on as she realized just what I was talking about. She shook her head and (not for the first time) agreed that writing was not her favorite thing to do, especially considering the difficulty even us writers have to go through.
Chalk up one more person who understands our plight. Writing is exceedingly difficult. Besides the mechanics of the language, we also have to create a story someone will enjoy. Then we have to clean it all up so that we're not wasting words. Then we have to find and cut out sections that really don't work (a difficult task at best, since we have to get past our own viewpoint). And after all this work, we still have just a story, not a published book. I haven't even broached the subject with my wife yet on how difficult it will be to actually get it published once I have a finished, gleaming, awe-inspiring final draft.
Do people around you truly understand how hard it is? How do you go about explaining the effort involved?