Tuesday, April 10, 2007

idleness and barbeques

I just sent my first official query to a magazine. Querying is what optimistic freelancers do in the hopes of getting assigned an article. It’s the first one I’ve sent to an editor I’ve never met. The first editor who is not a benevolent friend trying to help me get my words out there. It sounds self-depracating, but the pros tell me to expect rejection and then keep trying.

Classes are quickly approaching their end. My mysticism class is wrapping up with Moby Dick, a voluminous American classic dotted with spiritual and philosophical illumination—all on the back of the 19th century whaling industry. Meanwhile, on the other side of campus (I’ve been listening to too much Carrie Bradshaw), journalism class provokes me to long afternoons in the sun pondering the craft of writing.

Take last week’s journal entry:

I want a recipe for good writing, but it is a pull-everything-out-of-the-pantry-and-get-creative kind of endeavour. It is full of holes and half-attempts. Cliches become casualties on the road to creativity, and my best risks just threaten an alienated readership. I’m taught what not to say, and how to be clearer: “Look, who would actually say that?”(I would.)

Current mass journalism seems to be the pursuit of clarity at the expense of beauty. It corrodes the temples of words I’ve built in my mind, making them seem superfluous, gaudy, ornate.

Perhaps they are right, and good writing is clear, full of what people would actually say, and only that. For I am no Austen, no Dickens, or Thoreau even. I live today, in the 21st century of shortened words, of “text.” Of WTFs and LOLs and all the rest of language’s vestigial parts.

And so today, rather than writing, I feel like doing anything else. Wandering, dreaming of idleness, barbeques, a new tattoo. In joy the days slip by with ease. In the absence of joy, every minute is lead.

Cheers, it’s spring in New York State! Let’s go publish!


jm said...

I am very familiar with your media malaise, Jen... I struggled with the same questions in my journalism class. I agree that art seems to butt heads with the pursuit of clarity--or readership--in the media.

Good luck with the queries!

Arbitrarily Predictable said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog - and such a beautiful comment from a writer.

I too enjoy your Blog, and hope the best for you and the printed media.

Another tattoo? - me too.