Saturday 22 Oct 2016

Talent for Writing
Matt Seinberg

We all have talent. Often, we don't know about our talent, until it's too late. What about the ones that we are not aware of early in life, but become apparent as we get older and gain wisdom and knowledge?

Our talents can include, but are not limited to being a DJ on the radio, a TV news anchor, salesperson, writer, performer or an artist. It's even better if you can combine all or many of the above into a super, salable talent.

Since I was a kid, I enjoyed writing, but I never thought about doing it as a career or even a joy. When I got a computer and became aware of blogs, I created one simply to talk about my website. The problem was there was no urgency to write anything and I didn't want to write simply for the sake of using words. Why waste words and time if you don't have to?

The blog was stagnant. Then I joined Facebook and found an outlet to make fast, off the cuff and sometimes snarly comments. That was also a good way to blow off steam and discuss the events, of the day. Still, that didn't let me use my creative side.

Then I got the offer to write this column, which after much begging, pleading, with the publisher last year, not to mention groveling, he willingly hired me. I thought it was a great idea, and thought how easy it would be to write a weekly column.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, again. If anyone thinks for a moment that it is easy to come up with a new and exciting subject every week you are wrong. Sometimes an idea will pop into my head immediately and I'll write it down, and expand on it when I sit at the computer. Or an idea will percolate around the brain for a couple, or few weeks before it finally drips down into a full blown idea.

Writing is a talent; make no mistake about that. I am a short subject writer and have no desire to write the next great novel. I don't have the inclination to do so and it would take me forever. I wonder, can John Grisham do this sort of short form writing and make it interesting?

I think Dave Barry is one of the best examples of short form writing. His take on life and family is so funny and entertaining. I wish and hope to be like him when I grow up. Oh, you say, I already am grown up. Maybe I'll get to his level when I'm old, old, old.

The TV show on CBS based on his columns, "Dave's World" was a good example of family life intertwined with his work life. When you are a writer, working from home, there are distractions that make you crazy. The common ones are the kids running around screaming for attention, something to eat and most probably fighting with each other. You yell, "Hey, this is my job, leave me alone. Go bother your mother!"

Whoops, a poor choice of words, I think. "Colorless green ideas slept furiously." Best I try that sentence again.

Your wife comes bursting into your office, when you're deep inside the structure of a sentence. She gives you a look that almost melts your keyboard. No words needed. You gulp and apologize, but try to explain. You're working. Could she please control the children? That's her job when you're working. Another poor choice of words, but true. You're getting used to the living room sofa and your headache started a paragraph ago.

Television writers are among the most talented types, I think. They are constantly under a deadline to write, edit, re-edit and polish their scripts within a very short time. Writing teams work on more than one script at a time to keep the show going. Can you imagine if they only worked one script? That's sort of like filling a swimming pool with a straw, it will never get done.

Now, that's not to say all television shows are good. Crap is crap. No matter how it's wrapped, stinky fish stink, whether it comes from the high-end Citarella or Fish by Jack, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Some of the worst television shows of all time include "Manimal." "My Mother the Car," which is, officially, the worst television show ever and starred Jerry van Dyke. Cop Rock" is on the list. "Supertrain," created by otherwise genius, Fred Silverman, crashed none too soon. "Pink Lady and Jeff," created by radio programming genius, Paul Drew, who should have stuck to radio. "After M*A*S*H," and "Ball Four" end my list of poor television. I don't even want to waste any more time or space describing these shows; each was so bad.

Now, here are a few of the best television shows of my time. The Bob Newhart Show," where he's a psychologist; "The Cosby Show," "Friends," "Frasier," "Cheers," "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere," "Dallas," "M*A*S*H," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "Star Trek." Again, we know every little nuance about these shows: superb writing, excellent action, subtle direction and the top producers in the business.

I'm sure some of the writers from the worst shows also worked on the best shows. Then they can blame the actors, producers and network for its failure. Hey, they were successful; they can't fail now!

So the next time you think you can do something better than someone who does it for a living, sit down at your computer, typewriter or notebook and try to compose something coherent that people would actually want to read. It's not so easy, is it?

The good thing is, you did finish this column. Thanks!

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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