Random events in life can make me mad. Like most of us, unexpected curveballs life throws at us that make things harder create triggers of rage in me. Cut me off in traffic and I’ll let out a stream of curses that would make a sailor blush. Let me get bumped while I’m eating so that I get mustard on the shirt I just pulled from the dryer, and I have to force the red out of my eyes before I jump up and turn into the Tasmanian Devil.
Why do I bring up how I can act like a two year old when denied a piece of candy? Because it happens in writing as well.
We live in a world of computers. In the olden days, a writer sat at a typewriter and belted out reams of physical paper to create stories. Now, however, we use laptops and tablets and whatever else to create our work. This usually makes life easier, but not always. Case in point – I was writing a recent blog post and had just finished what I thought was a great point, so I went to save it. That was when my computer shit the bed. As I restarted, the archive retrieval only found half the document, all of which was written before the point I’d just labored over.
Obviously, I was furious.
Typewriters were cumbersome, but at least I didn’t have to worry about losing my work to the electronic ether. I know, I know…confound that dadburn modernity.
The frustration of it all, of course, is that re-creating exactly what I just wrote is near impossible. We operate in a stream of consciousness while writing, and getting it exactly as we had it just doesn’t work. Sure, we can get close, and the basic point is still there, but we’ll never get it as we just had it. Think I’m wrong? Go ahead and try it – write a bit of a story, get a blank sheet of paper, and then try to re-write that same story in exactly the same way. Dollars to donuts(mmm…donuts…) that your second try will be different than the first, even if those differences are only minor.
This is the problem of being a writer. Something that requires no creative effort can be done over and over and over again. But the creative process rarely asserts itself the same way twice. That’s why I save my work in multiple places once it’s complete, for I know that I’ll never reproduce it the same way. I don’t mind editing, but I despise re-creating. That just unleashes my inner toddler, and that toddler is as capable of throwing a tantrum as anyone.