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The Careless Writer
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Last night Mary and I sent off to our editor what we hope will be the final revisions on Seven For A Secret so today we are celebrating Independence Day. Independence from that book.

As much as I love writing, I hate rewriting more. A fresh stick of chewing gum is fine but who wants to masticate a hardened lump that had all the taste sucked out the day before?

Many writers seem to take pride in how much rewriting they do. My method is to try to get it right the first time. With a novel, sad to say, there's no way to avoid some reworking.

This blog is another story. It's my verbal sketchbook. I rarely spend more than twenty minutes on an entry. I fiddle with the sentences as I work my way through. When I get to the end I post it. Rewriting never has a chance.

I started blogging to give myself the opportunity to toss off the kind of little snippets with which I filled up the empty spaces in the fanzine I published. I used a hand cranked spirit duplicator. Once you've gone through the misery of getting an essay onto a ditto master, hanging participles and infelicitous phrases suddenly read just fine. In fact, if Flaubert had lived to see spirit duplicators he would have realized that "le mot juste" is any word typed onto a ditto master.

Does such an approach indicate a lack of care? Would these blogs be better if they were rewritten and polished? I'm sure I could make them better technically, but I don't think it would improve them. They are supposed to be spontaneous.

My dad was an excellent watercolorist. He had awards and his paintings hang in museum collections. Watercolor, unlike oil painting for example, is a spontaneous medium. The paints dry too fast to ponder and rework. Dad used to get irritated when potential customers would ask how long a painting had taken, as if it mattered, as if he were being compensated on an hourly basis. Finally when someone asked, "how long did it take you to paint that?" he'd answer, "Two hours to paint it and thirty years to learn how."

It really isn't the time or effort or commitment or good intentions that go into a piece of art that counts, but the result. Although if we could get paid minimum wage on an hourly basis for the time we spend on our fiction...well, I suspect most writers would take that deal in a minute.

David Burton harvests some of my blog entries for inclusion in his zine Pixel. I admit, I don't retouch them before they are committed to electronic print. There is a new issue (Pixel 15) out and my column this time is not something that ran here. The bad news is that it is about a fan writer most of you have probably never heard of. However, as usual, there is other good stuff in the zine.

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