Cutting myself

Copyright 2004 Ben S. Pollock

Monday, Nov. 8, 2004: I may see a trend in this Brick business, a hierarchy. When I work for pay, or at least print publication, I not only think hard about clarity of thought in the writing but how to frame the published writing to maximize its appeal to the reader. Often this involves humor, forms of humor: parody, satire, mini-short stories, fake plays or just deft turns of phrase that might be called witty, to make serious comments palatable.

At the other extreme is my longhand journal, whose current incarnation began in 1998 (meaning 1-7 entries a week). The Morning Pages (yes, originally inspired by Julia Cameron), range from first drafts of columns pretty enough perhaps to be published by my standards (see graf above), to more often recording of dreams, grocery lists and things-to-do-today lists.

In between is this Brick business for my fewer than 14 readers (“Art is not art if only 14 people know about it.” — Joni Mitchell). They’re basically journal entries I don’t think will embarrass me if people I know read them. They rarely, though, begin as Morning Pages, but I think of a separate issue while doing the Pages that would be a good Brick. About half the Bricks are revised once, and the other half just spell-checked; this comes from column-writing, where I have the confidence that my standard of just not being embarrassed by myself has been met.

What these Bricks rarely are, though, are funny. I generally want them to be but seem unable to make myself invest the time to that end. Humor takes concentration and time; the incentive of ego or renumeration helps.

One thing that I’ve learned about my own published columns and essays is that in the first draft, the best opening sentence is around three grafs from the top, and that those first grafs can be successfully dropped (I learned this from Frank Fellone of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette). For Bricks, I leave them in. I kind-of like my 12 or 13 readers to know my compulsion for frozen pizza, and a graf or two off-topic is only a few seconds of their time. -30-