For the first time in a long time, I’m writing for someone who doesn’t think I’m necessarily that great of a writer. Someone who knows damn well when I phone in the last 3 graphs of a blog post because I haven’t taken enough time to articulate exactly the point I want to convey. Someone who won’t let me post some romantic rhetorical nonsense about journalism because I wanted to watch Top Chef last night instead of commune with my laptop.
God, its refreshing. As much as I feel like I’m getting sucker-punched every time I open my emails from him, I love it. He’s always careful to give me one of those compliment-criticism-compliment sandwiches so that the remnants of my pride don’t just walk out and leave me, and he pushes me hard to write better than I have in awhile.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with my lit professor my senior year of high school. Papa G’ we called him, because he was an 85 year-old priest (no jokes please, this man was amazing) who wrote critically-acclaimed poetry and ran 4 miles every morning before coming to teach our class. For 2 semesters, he gave me all A’s. With that track record, I was feeling pretty good about my writing. Then, one day towards the end of the school year, he asked me what I wanted to do after college. I said I wanted to write. He laughed at me. “You will need a whole lot more practice, its hard to do,” he said, “best to think about doing something else.”
I took his advice. I did something else. Now, I still do something else, but I also get to write as part of my work, and to write for someone whose even tougher on me than Papa G was. I have no idea how it happened this way, but I sort of love it. Writing (even just the little bit I do) is maddening and a whole new kind of stressful, but I find myself craving more and more of it. I love the fun of hunting for interesting subjects and information, the rush of adrenaline that accompanies a deadline, and the sense of utter and overwhelming peace that comes from finishing a really good piece.
When I go home tonight, I’ll probably sit with my laptop for a few hours, trying to coax another good post out of my brain so that I won’t have to work all weekend. Odds are, the post won’t get done, or if it does, it will be so full of fluff at the end that I’ll have to get up in the morning and rewrite it all. But at least now I’ll KNOW its full of fluff and that I won’t be able to get away with it, and that I can actually do a little better; and that’s something I’m feeling really good about right now.