Really Writing

I walked into the writers’ office yesterday and saw a ping pong ball and two paddles sitting on the assistant’s desk.

I paused, staring at the ping pong ball.

This was one of those moments you see in indie movies, where the character is contemplating his life, but you don’t know exactly what he’s thinking because, you know, “show, don’t tell.” But, since this isn’t a movie, I can tell you. I was thinking:

This is where I should be– counting how many times I can bounce the ball while idly bullshitting with the other writers about whatever this week’s story is. Then, suddenly, the story breaks, and we leap to our computers and start furiously pounding out the script.

Now, I know this isn’t how it always works. Writing can be frustrating and dull and lonely. But it can also be engaging and exciting and social, in the right circumstances.

I told my wife about ping pong ball, and she rolled her eyes. “That’s not really writing.”

You see, my wife is under the misapprehension that “writing” consists of the time spent at the keyboard. In fact, she uses “writing” and “typing” interchangeably. “Do you do any good typing today, sweetie?”

She does this mostly because she knows it annoys me.

The truth is, there’s much more to writing than the actual typing. An electrician’s job is to light the set, but the entirety of his job is not encompassed in the moment he switches on the lamp. He has to lay cable, position the light, set the dimmer board.

When I’m playing Portal for the eighteenth time, or calling up friends, or just staring at the ceiling, I can see why that’d look like goofing off. What I’m really doing is laying cable.

Although, sometimes, I am just goofing off.

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2 Responses

  1. Hahaha. Maybe there’s something else at work here too: in jobs where it’s possible to goof off, goofing off happens, because it’s humanly impossible to avoid it. I have one of those jobs, and no matter what I do to minimize that time, my ratio of goofing off to working when I should be working hasn’t gotten better than 1:2 or so. I don’t even like it: if I could convince myself to work when I needed to, I’d have so much more time at the end of the day to do what I actually wanted to. It’s gotten to the point where I’m envious of those jobs where it’s just not possible to goof off: when the director says “Action”, the cameraman just *can’t* be checking a news feed.

    Side note: I friggin love your blog, I’m so glad you started it.

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