Monday, April 02, 2007

It was a mistake...

...for me to have taken the weekend off.

I didn't do any work, didn't think about work, and now that Monday's here -- and almost gone -- I haven't been able to muster up any enthusiasm or creative ability. Sleeping through the day would have been more productive.

Part of this I blame on the first item on the agenda. My friend D., the photographer, has long had a habit of shooting assignments no one asked for. From time to time, he sends off piles of old photo-shoots to editors, who generally just send 'em right back. Last Friday, he made a sale, and it turns out these were photos for which I had written the accompanying article. I went through all my available files and couldn't find a copy*, so the editor sent me a Xerox of the manuscript. It arrived today.

I wrote it almost 15 years ago.

My writing style has changed a bit since then (for the better, I hope), and I felt a mild headache coming on as I read through this piece. It was dashed off in a hurry for a client who didn't pay much -- not that the current re-do will add perceptibly to my bank account, either -- and, worse, it left out some important facts on the subject I have learned in later years.

So instead of a near-freebie consisting of a shiny new lede and a few reworded phrases here and there, I'm basically doing the whole damn thing over from Ground Zero. And the editor wants it this week.

To tell the truth, I simply don't feel like writing this story. Or, for that matter, any of those waiting their turn for completion. There are a lot of minor reasons -- such as checks I'm still waiting on, months after they were due, and so on -- but I'm beginning to think the real deal-breaker is this:

My first foray into magazine pages hit the newsstands in July, 1986**. With over a thousand stories -- ranging from roughly 400-500 words to ten times as long -- in print, I've said every damn thing I'm going to be able to say about my subject area at least once. Or, in some cases, dozens of times.

I'm feeling a bit like Frank Sinatra, who had to have gotten tired of walking into gigs and always having some drunk call out "sing 'New York, New York,' Frank!"

I have to find some kind of distraction to get my head working right, Jim.

After all, I'm not getting any younger.

At least I'm not getting any older for another couple of days.

* My computer doesn't have a floppy drive, and thus I can't load the DOS-based writing program I used in those long-ago days. If I can't do that, I can't read my old stuff and, sadly, I am missing several dozen copies of magazines that have carried my stories over the years. Or, if I actually do have a copy of this particular piece, it's lost among the hundreds of magazines I did save.

** Just out of curiosity, I took a break from writing this, dragged it off the shelf and re-read it. Not bad at all.


lowandslow said...

You may have written hundreds of pieces over the past 21 years, and to you you're just repeating yourself, but I wonder how many of TODAY'S readers were around to read the same subject matter in 1986? I guarantee I can read something today that I read for the first time 20+ years ago, and I wouldn't remember a word of it. Write it again, and cash the check. :)

Anonymous said...

Damn, that's a lot of pieces. I didn't realize you wrote quite that much. I guess the most experience people don't have to show off about stuff like that.

joan said...

Wow. That is an incredible track record.

MrScribbler said...

Lauren -- The number that satisfy me when I go back and look at them is considerably smaller.

Unlike the infinite number of monkeys sitting at an infinite number of typewriters, I haven't even come close to Shakespeare yet!

betty said...

I agree with lowandslow. I would never remember what I read 20 years ago. Sounds like a fairly nice job to me. :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, go for it. You wrote a lot of stuff!!!


MrScribbler said...

"Stuff" is the operative word, Gill.

Or, in too many instances, "****."

Birdie said...

aw, come on... you're putting yourself down again! You need to do some more positive thinking!! Your negative attitude may show in your writings and that would NOT be good! I still think you should try to write a piece for a local paper, something about the Ghetto that meets the sea.... you might get a new writing subject....