Insider 4/22/2010 - Simon Berman

For me, the hardest part of writing is actually writing things down. For those of you who read Doug’s blog, my handwriting makes Seacat’s look like the finest copperplate; crafted lovingly by angels who choose to spend a millennia inscribing each precious letter. In contrast, my own has the look of a Dear John letter clutched in the hand of someone found floating facedown in the Gowanus Canal on a dark, humid night in August.

This is why I type.

The second hardest part of writing things is the content revision process. This is not to say that I have no fear of the blank page. At some point, all my careful outlining and research comes to an end and it’s just me, the word count, and an endless, white void. Sometimes all that preparation pays off and a killer intro pops into my head. More often, I stare at a blank page for a few minutes less than eternity without a clue where to start. Time moves backwards, a gut wrenching anxiety manifests, and I begin to empathize with Bob Geldof’s character in “The Wall.” Questions arise. “What if I never write this introduction to Mercenaries in the Iron Kingdoms? How long will they let me sit here, failing to produce content? This office is in a corner; I bet it would take at least two days before someone noticed I’d passed out from malnutrition. ‘Malnutrition’ is kind of a funny sounding word.”

It is at this point I simply write ridiculous (sometimes profane) nonsense to kick start the assignment. I lied. Getting started is the second hardest part.

The third hardest part of writing things is the content revision process. At some point I have stopped editing and researching and generally finding reasons not to call the piece finished. Word count has been met, no sentences seem particularly egregious, and victory is at hand! With a sense of relief and accomplishment, I submit v1 to Jason for continuity review.

Time passes and I write more things. I Tweet, I Facebook. I Market. My inbox alerts me to new email. Crap, it’s Jason’s revisions and notes. I decide to take a look immediately. After all, this piece came together pretty well in the end and surely I can fix it up in a few minutes before lunch.

Soon I am embroiled in a lengthy debate involving the words “iconic” and “badass.” Anywhere between twenty and fifty percent of the assignment gets re-written. All former sense of accomplishment dwindles. A second round of revisions begins. The content gets tighter and somehow the completion of the article is no longer even possible. Surely, I will spend the rest of my life choosing slightly different adjectives and restructuring to improve flow. Darkness surrounds me, and I begin to wonder if I could order enough coffee to induce an overdose and gain some mandatory time off from work. As I reach for the delicious release to be found in my chai latte, the current draft is returned with the words “I do not need to see this again.”

Light embraces me, the sounds of children’s laughter no longer causes me physical pain. I weep with relief.

It is then that I realize I must now submit my reviewed assignment to editorial…