The Geekiest Girl

A few of my favorite things…

Wrong Words

This telegram, posted on the Brevity blog, is by Dorothy Parker, a writer of the early 20th century:

This telegram means the world to me as I struggle with my writing. Dorothy Parker despairs with beauty (“I can’t look you in the voice“), poignancy (“a pile of paper covered with wrong words“) and angst (“don’t know why it is so terribly difficult or I so terribly incompetent“).

I find comfort in her words: I’ve drafted two different blog posts this month and published neither because what remained after the efforts was a pile of “wrong words”.

I tried different approaches, styles and techniques. I tried playful, serious, casual and formal and each attempt was wrong. Like Dorothy, I have no idea why this is so difficult and why I have become so incompetent.

I know the usual comforting thoughts: that the words will come, give it time, rest, write daily to get all the wrong words out, exercise more, try yet another style. But at this moment the well-meaning sentiments are empty and annoy. I know those words are true but cannot hear them in this darker place.

I know the despair will pass. The words will come. The advice and suggestions will one day again be heard and heeded.

But at this moment there is this: a pile of wrong words, despair at ever writing well again and a beautiful telegram by another writer capturing that same feeling.

The telegram gives me hope: she struggled for a time, but then she kept writing. I will keep writing and after a time the small joys of the writing will return. And then the right words will return with the joy.

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4 thoughts on “Wrong Words

  1. Every blog should have a post like this. I don’t even have a blog and I should write a post like this! Thanks for putting this up. Nice piece of work.

  2. Love reading that telegram. Artists are their worst critics. The struggle for perfection is on-going. This is true of all artists over all media of expression – and a reminder that creativity will flow again. Thank you for posting!

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