Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying Without a Net

Welcome to new reader, Ellen. Ellen comes by way of Twitter, and became a fan on the NEPAFollies' Facebook page, where I paste the blogs under "Discussions." Thank you, Ellen!

I was planning to gripe about a recent miscarriage of justice here in NEPA, but news of an old friend's death changed that. The list I keep of story subjects includes a piece explaining the close relationship between me, as a writer/reporter, and the editors and support staff that I depended on to "have my back."
My late friend, Susan Creswell, whose address I have as being in Lincoln Park, Michigan, was more than a friend. She was the strongest link in my chain of support during a professionally stimulating and personally difficult time of my life. Sue always had my back. She always made time to listen, and provided support, both personally and professionally. She had a mind like a steel trap. I envied her command of the language and of grammar. Technically, she was a Goddess of the English language. Personally, she was one of the most supportive friends I've ever had.
Our time together was short, but eventful and meaningful. We both moved to Florida in search of a better life and with the aim of making our dreams come true. We both found jobs and a family of strangers at Hometown News in Vero Beach, Florida. Together, we survived hurricanes, loss and a cavalcade of nutty co-workers.
Sue loved to listen to the wondrous stories of my madcap life. She was absolutely sure that I should write a book, and that I was a brilliant writer who would realize wild success.
Sue is now a lot closer to having those sentiments go from her mouth to God's ears. I am profoundly sad that I'll never have the pleasure of knowing that Sue is reading my bestseller. I am profoundly sad that we will never see each other again - sit and talk, share a laugh or a tear- on this Earth. But I am grateful to have known her and to have benefited from her generous nature and from her mental brilliance.
I tried several times over the years to contact her, and I thought about her often. She died a year ago. I found out today, through contact with another old friend.
If you love someone, if you miss someone, give them a call. Don't hesitate.
Rest in peace, Sue. You were one of the best.

Now onto "Flying Without a Net"

"To write is human, to edit, divine," is one of the truest statements I have ever read. I recall reading it in a book about writing by Stephen King.
I am, by nature (it seems) emotionally raw and extremely dramatic. Since childhood, I've been inexplicably moved to cry at the end of live performances - from Broadway plays to elementary school concerts (it is SOOOO embarrassing! But I cannot help it!). I cry at graduations, weddings, and baptisms - at a moment's notice, at a ceremony of any kind, I can be depended upon to tear up and begin the power sniffling.
During the course of many seemingly normal conversations, I've been asked by co-workers, friends, acquaintances, children's teachers and interview subjects if I've ever acted, performed as a comedian, or hosted a show.
Being such a helplessly open book, I am drawn to quiet strength. I'm drawn to individuals who are kind nurturers, individuals who unassumingly and matter-of-factly possess and share their brilliance. Individuals willing to gently guide me, praise me, and who just as gently yet firmly correct me and teach me when I am mistaken or un-knowledgeable about a given subject.
The two newspaper editors, one bureau chief, and two news clerks I have worked with during my wonderful years as a reporter have been such individuals. These five people (Sue was one of them) have been my ground wires and the sources of my confidence, more than any parent, school teacher or lover has ever been. They have openly and generously respected me for my talents and abilities, as I respect them for theirs.
When you're plummeting head first into a deadline, when it's your name under the headline above the fold and on the front page, you're ruined without expert support.
So as I delve into this blogging adventure without an editor, with my back exposed and unguarded, I liken the experience to that of an acrobat flying without a net.
I'm no dummy. I have an AP (Associated Press) style book in the closet, a dictionary within reach, and I was one of those annoying kids who aced grammar and vocabulary and spelling.
But enthusiasm, the ravages of time and wear and tear on the old brain, and what I surmise to be a minor and unidentified learning disability (I reorder the letters in words when I type. For instance, "from" becomes "form" ), sometimes get the better of me. As a reporter, I labored to hand in articles that were as "clean" as possible - clean meaning error-free. I even did some copy editing, and was meticulous (obsessive) about that responsibility.
I've also got a hyphen problem. Yes, I'm long familiar with the top-notch quarterback of AP style, but I do get carried away with those menacing little dashes. Perhaps I was frightened by a hyphen during early childhood!
So please forgive any inadvertent errors I may make while flying without a net. I love our language. I love writing. I love telling stories.
I hope to win over many readers who love what I'm offering - occasional errors and all!
What do you think? Leave a comment!

No comments:

Post a Comment