Fried Rice, Refried Beans
Write Quickly or Write Slowly, Just WRITE, Damn It!
I don’t think there is a single place on the Internet where you can find as much advice on writing as right here on good old Medium. No, I’m not being sarcastic: I honestly believe it to be true.
And even though I don’t necessarily believe in some of the views expressed here, I still read them and give them some serious thought; after all, I like to think that I keep an open mind.
For that reason, you’ll never find me replying to a story with, “No, you blithering idiot! You’re wrong!” I might think it, but I’d never say it. Nor have I ever seen anyone post a similar response.
For me — and I may be wrong, but I assume for many of you as well — writing is a deeply emotional practice. I constantly worry: is this making any sense? Am I saying what I really think I’m saying? Will people understand me? Ultimately, it comes down to what George Carlin once said about the unspoken plea in every single prayer to God: “And please, God, make me a cool guy.”
Years ago I saw a brief interview with the cartoonist Al Capp, he of “Lil’ Abner” fame. It showed him at work in his studio, where he had a mirror next to his other writing tools. It was so he could see what his face looked like when he was trying to communicate mood in his drawings: anger, surprise, horror, whatever.
I think of this and wonder every time I write: my face must be contorting the same way whenever I struggle to get the just the right combination of words in just the right order to say what I’m trying to say.
My ADD adds a whole new level of distraction. As I was sipping my tea, concentrating on getting everything just so, this thought popped into my head: when we cook a pot of rice and then reheat it in a frying pan, we call it “fried rice.” But when we do the same thing with beans, we call them refried beans. What’s up with that?
Hey! It gave me a great idea for a title, anyway.
A strange lot, are we writers. We’ll agonize for days over whether we should have used this word as opposed to that one, ultimately starting in on our third draft and eliminating the entire paragraph.