Friday, March 31, 2006

The Divinely-Inspired Word Count

My adventures into blogging have given me a new perspective on the world of free-lance writing. Since it’s my  blog, I’m going to share that perspective with you and you may or may not read it. That’s what this is all about, right?

When I was in college, one of my teachers told us about a writing assignment he had accepted. He had written a unit of Sunday School literature for his church’s denomination. What an honor! To interpret the Bible for the faithful. To write literature that would be studied simultaneously by the masses on a Sunday morning. To literally be the voice of the denomination for a brief moment in time.

Oh, and the assignment specified that he had to do it in exactly 675 words. Well, he could squeeze in 690 if he was really feeling verbose.

You see, the article had to come out even at the bottom of the page. That wasn’t an option. Too much white space at the bottom of the page and the parishioners might feel cheated. If the article was too long, it would spill onto the next page and, well, we just can’t have that, can we? A smaller or larger font was out of the question because, after all, we have our standards.

The practice is sarcastically known as the “divinely-inspired line count”.

Editors! Can’t live with ’em. Can’t shoot ’em.

How many authors have lamented editors that have arbitrarily split or combined paragraphs to make things come out even at the end? Or who have mangled sentence structure to delete or insert words to eliminate widows and orphans?

How many authors have determined that they will never succumb to the banal wishes of editors, only to do so in order to be paid?

Ah, the life of a blogger. No editors. No line counts. Nobody telling me my article is too long or too short.

Oh, yeah, and no pay.

Oh, well, at least I can end the article any time I want to.

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