Five hundred words. I'm supposed to keep it under 500 words.
So far, I've achieved that exactly once, a short little not-column explaining why I wasn't writing a column for that week. It's not a hard rule, but in general I do start off with that number in mind. I usually wind up around 650, but my last few have been over a whopping 800 words.
I had a lot to say. Nearly 20 years of unrequited passion for writing will do that to you. So I'm learning the hard way why that guideline exists...If you can't say what you want to say in a couple of paragraphs, it starts to drag. A perfect example was Polar Bears & Three ringed binders. It took me far to long to make my point. It was a good point, I thought. I couldn't understand why it seemed to generate very little interest. So, being my own worst critic, I read it again. It was drawn out. I spent too much time trying to make the connections between the analogy and the actual point I was trying to make. By the time I finished reading it, I was bored myself.
OK, so not every column I write is a masterpiece. A good lesson to learn this early in my career. Another lesson I continue to learn is that typing correctly is more difficult than it seems. I misspell words...a lot. You may have noticed this. "I before E" has exceptions, which is really tough on a dyslexic left-hander who types as rapidly as I do with two fingers. Spell check is my new best friend; still it doesn't catch everything. Every single work I have submitted thus far has the subtle errors of a rookie: I left a critical word out of a sentence Tuesday, rendering it into nonsense and causing many of you to go "huh?" I have typed the wrong word several times, with the same effect. Muck to my chagrin, typing "muck" instead of "much" won't get corrected by my spell checker.
What I have found out these past few months is that I love doing this. I love it so much that it makes me want to take off some of those hats I famously wear so many of, quit doing some of the other things I do to make more time for this. I have yet to be at a loss for material, but I have ran out of time to write before the deadline. Like right now, at a quarter of midnight Thursday, writing this piece which was due 14 hours ago.
I have been blessed to work for an editor who is talented, helpful, and patient. Sharon Swanepoel is as nice a lady you will ever meet, a consummate professional who has been very encouraging and downright good for the ego of this particular upstart. Without her, I would be just another guy writing semi-funny quips on facebook and the occasional participant in another rousing debate on loganvilleonline.com.
For the faith she has bestowed in me and the encouragement to do more, I am eternally grateful. I will get a better spellchecker on this laptop. I'll work on that word limit thing. (447 so far, doing good!) So while it would be easier on me if her last name was Smith (I struggle with their and thier...have you noticed how many vowels are in Swanepoel?), I'm really glad to be working for her. She works hard and puts out quite an impressive Patch each day, doesn't she?
I'm having fun, and I hope you, the reader, are too. I'm still learning, so please bear with me if I misspeel something or insert the wrong work every now and again. Those three little dots...they're kind of my trademark and aren't going away...How am I doing on words...
Five hundred and twenty-six. Nuts. Every time I type a word, I run the count up more. Now I'm up to 542, unless the number "526" counts as a word. Then it's even higher. Higher still, because now I have to count all these words, too.
Sorry, Sharon. I should just stop now.