This is an excerpt from the 51st edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.
Depending on which website you believe, it was Mark Twain who said: “Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I’m sure this is true for some people but, for most of us, I reckon that’s a load of old hooey. I love my job but I sure as eggs call it work.
Writing isn’t easy. And I’ve been doing it daily for more than 20 years, so I think I’m allowed to have an opinion on the matter. It takes time, attention to detail, a degree in herding cats, investigative skills, often superhuman levels of mental comprehension, patience, grit, not a small amount of skill with English and the occasional white lie.
Writing is so exhausting that at one point I was going to give it up altogether and become a gardener. (Name a more delightful midlife crisis. I’ll wait.) Gardening is another thing I enjoy doing. I was serious about it. I quit my job and made enquiries about training with the Royal Horticultural Society here in London.
It was a few days later that Sarah called and suggested we start our own specialist editorial services agency and, not being an idiot, I jumped at the chance. I had one small condition: I still wanted to get my RHS qualification. She agreed.
So, the past couple of years I’ve been quietly going to night school, learning the difference between monocotyledons and dicotyledons, what makes ginkgo so special and why waterboarding your houseplants is a bad idea. I sat my final exams in June and got my results last week. I passed. I’m all qualified. The certificate is on its way.
In the intervening period, Typeset has taken off, my midlife crisis has abated and I’ve abandoned all plans to become a professional gardener. However, I have learned a valuable lesson.
Doing any job well, no matter how much you enjoy it, takes hard work. It involves moments of frustration, exasperation and exhaustion.
You cannot tell me a gardener who spends two days digging out a tree stump by hand enjoys it. Nor do I enjoy spending two hours crafting the perfect opening sentence or closing paragraph. A sense of achievement when it’s done, sure, but enjoy it? Not really.
It’s hard graft. Pure and simple.
7 September 2021
PS. If you’re in the horticultural industry and need a writer, give me a call. I should probably put all this knowledge to good use.
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