Posted Fri, 01/25/08
Yesterday I was putting polish to a query letter when I thought with irritation: It's harder to write a short bit about myself or my work than it is to actually write the offering itself.
Writing a full-length book takes a lot of time and effort, but trying to form the words to describe the work in a few sentences or one paragraph is another thing altogether. The same premise applies to writing short stories. I find it easier to create and maintain a long story than throwing together a quick bit that has to remain flowing (without seeming to) and entertaining at the same time.
I liken the short-work process to tests. I have never liked tests of any kind. Test-antipathy reaches far back into my school years and remains an ordeal for me to this day. The current equivalent of a test for me is applying for a driver's license, which is basically a simple task if the applicant has half a brain. However, at the prospect of a test (written or otherwise), my own brain freezes. I can know and understand the content from A to Z and quote it in my sleep, but if I have to sit down and take a test I become ineffective. Silly, isn't it?
When I lived in Idaho many years ago it took me four tries to finally secure a drivers license, and as many times in Washington. I knew the answers to the test questions, but being in the "examination" setting threw me – as usual – for a loop.
Writing a blurb or a short bit is much the same. When I finally do get it right – after obsessing, rewriting and rereading – I tend to file it away with relief, therefore avoiding any major changes until it's absolutely necessary.