Friday, March 17, 2006

Write what you know

Many years ago a cartoon appeared in Writer’s Digest. A fellow sits at a typewriter (remember them?) and stares at the blank sheet of paper. The thought balloon says, “Write what you know…Write what you know…”

As the Internet age clearly shows, ignorance doesn’t stop us from writing. It used to be that writers wrote on yellow lined pads or hunted and pecked on ancient Royals. They always had to be careful near the end of a page so that the last line didn’t slant away. I used to painfully type a complete page of what was supposed to be clean copy only to look back in horror at a typo on the first line—and then of course my eraser always left a smudge. Or my carbon paper would be in backwards on an otherwise perfect page.

So who wants to keep piles of handwritten or poorly typed work, be it inspiration or dreck? Every few years I threw out piles of my pale efforts, unread and unlamented. Today, through the miracle of modern technology, I never have to throw any of my precious words again. It can stay on hard drive, on CD, or, God bless us, in cyberspace for everyone to enjoy.

But if word processing gives us the means to produce typo-free dreck, and the Internet gives us the means to assault the world with it, we also have the means to learn what we don’t know and to verify the rest.

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