I just spent the day taking commas out of where they don't belong in people's sentences and putting them in where they do. I'd much rather be reading and writing poetry. That's my true passion. It's been over four years since my first book of poems was published, and I'm not very close to having a second collection ready to go. Of course, I make more money editing and writing non creative pieces for my clients. That's the first frustration.
Work, as we all know, expands to fill the available time. That's the second frustration. It shouldn't have taken me all day to push commas around. I should have had plenty of time to do something creative. Unfortunately, I always do my best creative work when I have the least time to do it.
And now for the third frustration--it's the way some writers I work with use the language. Consider this sentence I came across yesterday while I was editing an article about chemotherapy:
"It’s not uncommon to lose hair over your whole body, not just on your head."
Why did the writer need so many layers in that sentence? The reader has to peel away two layers of negatives at the head of the sentence to get to the meaning. And the "not" in the beginning sets up a head on collision with the not at the end. Because the phrase at the end seems as if it could be parallel with the opening of the sentence (which it really isn't), the reader has a hard time knowing what's being negated at the end. The fact that what's being negated is an unspoken assumption -- that chemotherapy only causes the hair on top the head to fall out -- only compounds the confusion. Making the sentence work isn't that hard. All the writer needed to do was be direct:
It’s common to lose hair over your whole body, not just on your head.
But it isn't all frustration for me today. I just got an email from a colleague who does the same kind of work I do, only she does it in an office with other people around. In the email she said: "The fog here on the 24th floor is pretty impressive right now." That created all kinds of wonderful images. I knew she meant outside the windows of the 24th floor (it's been raining in Atlanta -- wonder of wonders). But I like what went through my mind when I took her sentence at face value.