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Tuesday, 01 May 2012

The Literary Genius

By Sharon Ostrow who blogs at It's All About the Journey

The typewriter beckons me from its banishment in the corner of the coat closet, but I will not be tempted. Its future is to collect dust bunnies, poor thing but I will not be swayed, for I am at last up to date with the modern world and have deemed my new computer a partner in creating a great literary work.

Even though I am a newcomer to technology, I am confident this machine will help to ensure my success. I have everything at my fingertips, prepared to create a masterpiece.

Fingers poised over the keyboard I am ready to unleash my muse and fill the blank screen with words of genius. The time is now and the conditions are perfect. I am a genuine writer at last, ready to make my mark in literary history.

I envision my picture in the newspaper as an “upcoming new writer.” I see myself at book signings as I tour all over the world. My name will be listed among famous authors such as John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, and Pearl S Buck.

This creation is going to be the story that launches my career. There will be no rejection slips. I will be renowned as a great author and after I am interviewed on Oprah, agents will beg for my attention.

The words flow quickly and I can hardly type fast enough to keep pace with my mind. My beginning paragraph is awesome as I hook my readers in with the first sentence.

My voice is clear and strong yet gently entreating. My point of view is consistent as each mesmerizing sentence builds towards the scintillating climax. I pay no attention to the ringing phone. The knock on the door does not distract me and lunchtime passes unnoticed except for the grumble of my stomach.

This is what writing is all about, complete devotion to one’s talent. The time flies and before I know it, all I have left is the final proofread.

I follow submission guidelines to a T. Every space, every line is precise on the page. Every word is spelled correctly, every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. My sentences are fluid, my choice of words perfect with just the right mix of adjectives and adverbs and I have not allowed disagreeing verbs, dangling participles, naughty gerunds or sloppy slang. The syntax is perfect.

The final draft is complete. Perhaps I should do just one last spell-check before printing. I touch my finger to a key, and then -

The screen is blank and the realization hits. I have deleted everything!

In the haste of my elation, I pressed the wrong key. Too late I remember someone telling me that I should save my work periodically as I go along. Hindsight, however clear, does not make this less painful. My masterpiece is gone, like spilled milk that cannot be put back into the glass.

Ah well, such is the life of a writer and I must do what I must do. I start again. Perhaps I should dust off the typewriter.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


You brought back a nightmare.

It's 2 a.m. I'm a daily newspaper editor. Deadline is near.

I'm editing a long story. Facts are jumbled. Syntax, spelling, and punctuation need work.

I write the headline. I hit the wrong button.

I start from scratch.

Sharon - This also brings back memories.

In the early 1980's, my son was in a car pool with John Updike's stepson. At supper one evening, my son recounted that "Mr. Updike" had been in a foul mood in the morning, because he had poked the wrong button and deleted a story he had just finished writing for the 'New Yorker'! - Sandy

One time I wrote a story for ESP and it received quite a few comments.

I spent a long time answering each of the comments(because I'm so happy to get them),BUT then I hit the wrong key and they all disappeared to the place where computers send your work, and only they know where that is, and they will never disclose the location.

Heaven forbid you should be able to find it again.

Where or where is that nether-land? It's happened to all of us whether we are good or bad writers.

That happened to me once. I took up tap dancing and I've never been happier.

I have started doing my first drafts on paper in longhand, since I am such a crappy typist. But that should prevent any kind of complete disaster, I hope.... nah!

As they say, "If something can go wrong with Murphy's Law, it will."

I use Google docs (free)....it autosaves as you go, so will Apple's Pages (inexpensive software for the Macs. You just need to use newer software. Good luck.

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