‘Be Wrong as Fast as You Can’

They say those who can't write, edit. Is that so?

OTHER OPINION

HUGO LINDGREN

For at least 25 years, I’ve been serial daydreaming.  Recording hundreds of ideas in a sequence of little notebooks that I have carried around and then stacked in a shoe box in my closet, a personal encyclopedia of undone to-do’s. Sometimes, when I’m searching for something in my closet and I see the box, I have a flashback to my first-grade report card: “Hugo has the gift of a rich, active imagination, but needs to work on his follow-through skills.”


My situation, I know, is not unique. Who doesn’t have big plans they never get around to acting on? Everybody swaps ideas with his friends about the excellent TV show they’d make or the groundbreaking movie they’d write. And a couple of my grand schemes got an inch or two off the ground — an agent lunch, a pitch meeting, a trip to L.A., a flurry of e-mail filled with exclamation points — though never much higher than that. And along the way, I also became editor of the magazine you are now reading, so it’s not as if I became mired exclusively in a world of delusional ambition. It’s just that for way too long, I held on to the fantasy of a completely different professional life, and I can’t help wondering why certain creative endeavors just seemed impossible to make happen.


I know, writers have been complaining for eons about the weight of their burden, and it’s not attractive. But I’ve been around it long enough to know that writing anything good that’s longer than a paragraph isn’t easy for anybody, except for maybe J. J. Abrams. You can’t explain how people do it. Some of the most successful screenwriters, novelists, television producers and rock-opera librettists I know are about a hundred times lazier than I am. They take long afternoon naps, play lots of pickup basketball and appear to accomplish little or nothing for months at a time. And let me tell you, their ideas do not all crackle with scintillating originality.


So what am I missing? What is that elusive thing that turns some people’s daydreams into their next novel for F.S.G.?


Earlier in my professional life, as I began to do all right as an editor, I naďvely discounted it as something I never intended to stick with. A respectable occupation, I thought, while preparing myself for the Masterwork of Spectacular Brilliance that would eventually define me.


One of my pet theories about why I could never actually produce anything of brilliance was that I was cursed with a comfortable existence. What might have been my creative prime was spent in New York City in the 1990s, a flush time for the young and college-educated. Magazine-editor jobs paid O.K. and were relatively easy to get, especially compared with now. Maybe I would’ve been better off in the 1970s, when a young person with ambitions like mine had to take a hard job as a means to his artistic ends. Would such sacrifice, I wondered, have sharpened my desire to make it as a writer?


My big fear, of course, was that I was becoming an editor. I won’t lie. For a long time, I considered this an unacceptable outcome. I don’t know if anyone ever told me, “Those who can’t write, edit,” or if I made that up on my own, but that little aphorism haunted me. Meanwhile, my grandiose writing projects were all going nowhere for the same tedious reason. The minute I tried to commit them to paper, or otherwise turn them into something tangible, my imagination coughed and sputtered like the cheap Renault convertible my girlfriend drove in college. I’d write a bit of dialogue using that miraculous software that automatically formats it into a screenplay for you, and I’d be instantly paralyzed from the neck up. Here was incontrovertible evidence that I wasn’t half as good as I imagined myself to be. The voices I heard so clearly and powerfully in my head became inert and alien on the page. I was surprised by how mortally embarrassed you can be by writing something nobody else will ever read. Even looking back over those one- sentence descriptions of TV ideas in the first paragraph of this essay, I am humbled by how inadequately they convey the vividness they had as I conjured them. It’s like hearing a recording of my own voice. That can’t be how I sound. Oh, but it is.

(The New York Times)

Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • TwitThis
  • Mixx
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Print News

Enter the Security code exactly as you see it in the image security code is CaSe SeNsItIvE(Cookies must be enabled)
  • MORE FROM OPINION

  • Kashmir

PDD to outsource power distribution in JK

Move Aimed To ‘Arrest T&D Losses, Curb Power Theft’

MUKEET AKMALI

Srinagar, Jan 7: After failing to bring down Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses in the State, the Power Development Department has decided to outsource distribution of electricity across Jammu More



  • Srinagar City

Drainage system breaks down at Bonpora Batamaloo

Inhabitants suffer, authorities in slumber

SYED IMRAN ALI HAMDANI

Srinagar, Jan 7: Inhabitants of Bonpora Batamaloo here are facing immense inconvenience due to defunct drainage system and dilapidated roads.    The aggrieved inhabitants said the lanes More




  • Jammu

More deaths due to road mishaps than militancy in JK: DGP

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA

Jammu, Jan 7: Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed more deaths in traffic accidents than due to militancy in the last one decade, state Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Prasad said Monday. “Traffic More



  • South Asia

Pak lodges protest with Indian HC

LOC FIRING

REZAUL H LASKAR\PTI

Islamabad, Jan 7: Pakistan today lodged a protest over what it described as an "unprovoked Indian attack" on one of its military posts along the Line of Control, a claim which the Indian Army has rejected More



  • World

China asks India-Pak to talk

AGENCIES

Beijing, Jan 7: China on Monday said it hopes India and Pakistan will hold talks and solve their differences in a calm and proper manner following a firing incident in Kashmir. As a neighbour and More



  • Baramulla

Baramulla demands traffic signals, dividers

‘OPEN COURT ROAD FOR VEHICULAR MOVEMENT’

Baramulla, Jan 7: Residents of this north Kashmir town have urged the authorities to install traffic signals and road dividers to curb the frequent traffic jams in the area. "The need of the hour More



ADD
Designed Developed and Maintaned By Imobisoft Ltd /Algosol Software Solutions