The editor said she was fine with getting some minor changes from me, to my great relief. I had let the column sit for about a month after I submitted the final draft. But I read it yesterday and to my chagrin there were two sentences that just did not read as well as they could have. I HAD to change them — if she’d let me.
Not all editors are as patient and understanding. She said sure and then asked me again to consider writing an article for the magazine about a specific artist’s work. This is the third time she’s asked me. She’s also persistent. The other two times I said no.
Now, I might have lived with an artist for a while and taken some faux art classes and visit art galleries and know real live artists and buy art and doodle for fun BUT, writing about art is an entirely different thing.
I’ve been agonizing over this. Ok, not agonizing exactly but close to it; the kind of agony that is low-grade as opposed to the high-grade constantly acute can’t breathe, am I doing the right or wrong thing kind of agony.
Saying yes to writing this article is bumping up against a few things.
Rule #1: write about what you know. I don’t know art the way I know writing, or driving or notebooks or business or being a sister, or dogs, or birds, the scientific method or how to get around the city, or putting together a plan. So I am bumping up against this rule in a big way.
And yet, here’s an opportunity to write about something different, an opportunity to succeed or fail, earn a little bit and have another publishable piece, albeit not exactly in my field of writing. Wasn’t it me who said two weeks ago that I was going to finally step up and commit to this writing thing, a thing I have played at forever?
Well, two problems with that: I don’t easily commit AND, I was not specific enough about what the THIS was. Apparently that’s important when you let out thoughts: specificity. Who knew?
And if I am honest, if I can talk about art, does that mean I can think about it and isn’t thinking part of the writing process? And if I can think it and I can write it, can I write about it in a readable way?
Rule #2. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Yes, well. I was not born with that thrill-seeking gene.
Did I mention I have a hate/partial acceptance of rules and a love of conundrums and paradoxes??
Saying no might simply be foolish and immature and giving into my inner scaredy cat. Maybe I can change what I write about and write about things I like rather than what I know. That’s the thing about the writing rules. Once you know them, you know when they can be changed, bent, broken or ignored.
So tonight, I am going to talk with artist friend and see if I can’t calm that cat and get to a yes for my persistent editor.