Sunday, February 8, 2015

From where I sit

Having my editor living under the same roof has its advantages. I can yell out stuff like "What's another word for stupid that sounds more intelligent?" and other pressing questions. Tonight we had some work to pound out, literally. We had to make up some time we lost because of the little bitty issue with the heart attack last week. It's not easy typing with all those IVs in the way, and if he's going to take some time off, his trusty assistant deserved a little break too.

Usually my writing process goes something like this. Ernst tells me about a new project we have coming up, or reminds me of an assignment I have that's due. I whine and fuss and complain, curl up in a figurative ball and act like a three year old in the canned soup aisle. Yes, I throw writing tantrums. But once I sit down and start tackling a big project, the words start flowing and I really do enjoy it. I send it off to Ernst, who is usually sitting across the room and he says he'll get to it. That is when I find out there are deadlines and there are deadlines. After all that inner wrestling, to have my hard work sit in his in box is more than a bit annoying. But it feels good to get it out of my head and onto the page and done.

Then he reads it. Most times he needs to tweek it a bit, massage the words into place, and often he tells me I'm writing once again in the passive voice. What, he wants aggressive? I'm still trying to figure out once and for all time what the passive voice is so I can avoid it, but it just won't stick. Or stick it won't? The voice, it is passive? And the problem, what is it?

Then comes his editing my attempts at humor. We write almost exclusively for dental websites. (For dental websites we mostly write.) So, very often, as he's editing my work, he will yell out "You can't SAY that" about dentures, or implants, or missing teeth or drooling or spitting or all the other amusing dental realities. I begrudgingly agree, and all the funny jokes, puns and double meanings get cut, never to be enjoyed. Until now.

My latest project, still involving dentistry, is taking about 120 dental themed cartoons, adding a catchy and punchy caption to each one, and then finding the perfect link to our client's webpage. It's about teeth and I'm SUPPOSED to be funny! I can joke, I can make puns, I can be irreverent. It's like a dream come true, except the nightmare part. There are 120 of them. That's a lot of pressure. And some of them are a bit too funny, and "dentally off-color". Now it's me who's yelling across the room "We have to cut this one, I mean, You can't SAY that about teeth." (It is about teeth for which these things you cannot say?)

Ernst writes sitting up, at a table, feet on the floor. Seriously.

I write sitting on the couch, laptop on lap, feet on coffee table. Whining.