Friday, December 29, 2006

What Am I Doing Here? I Can’t Write!

Back when I worked at the weekly newspaper in Olds I’d go to the local RCMP detachment every Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. to get the police report. Then I’d drive 10 miles south to Didsbury and do the same thing at its RCMP detachment.
The drive was scenic with mountains to the west and prairie to the east. It was a nice break and a highlight of the day. I’d get back to the office, grab some coffee and junk food from a nearby convenience store, set myself at the typewriter, and then panic.
What am I doing here? I can’t write.
It was clearest to me at those moments that I was dreadfully unskilled, untalented, and well-nigh useless.
Despite having gotten through the previous week without being called out on my thundering lack of ability I was convinced that this Wednesday’s paper would be my downfall.
I’d stare at the unmolested piece of paper in my typewriter and consider my options. There weren’t many.
I think better with something in my mouth. I used to smoke and any smoker knows you can buy a lot of time taking out a cigarette, lighting it up, and then inhaling thoughtfully.
I’d quit several years earlier, but junk food can make you look thoughtful, too. I sipped and chewed. Police reports are easy. The paper stayed blank.
I think the act of eating relaxed me. After a few moments of heavy chewing I’d realize that I’d only need to do what I’d done last week. Put some words on the paper as they were told to me. If it worked then, it’ll work again.
After two years I realized that I’d been getting away with being a no-talent lout for quite some time. Perhaps I’d been wrong. This revelation was wonderful and freeing. At that moment I realized I was adequate. That has stayed with me.
I don’t concern myself being a great writer although being a paid one again would be nice. I am confident in my adequacy and no one can take that from me.

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