Writing is pain. As I write this, I feel the cognitive dissonance that’s forming in the back of my brain. To write voluntarily, e.g. to blog, and simultaneously exclaim how terrible the process is appears rather odd. I must like writing enough, however painful it is, to continue moving my fingers along the keyboard as I’m doing, no? To that I will deny, deny, deny.
I do not enjoy writing. I like ideas, and I like sharing them. If I could do that without resorting to writing, without tortuously pushing out words, sorely contorting those words into sentences, excruciatingly pounding those sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into a coherent, cohesive essay, all the better for it. (Some people would call this alternative process “talking”.) The idea is the gem; the writing is hydraulic fracturing: pumping noxious materials into the brain to flush out that gem.
What’s the solution? An obvious one springs to mind: telepathy! Yes, a Borg-like collective consciousness within which everybody is privy to every body else’s ideas, without harrowing mediums like writing. (Some extensive filters will need to be build, but nothing is beyond the Borg’s capability. Resistance is futile!)
Another obvious (obviously ridiculous?) solution is to outsource to pain to somebody else. We have editors and copy editors, whose jobs lay in that direction. They are partly responsible for polishing a writer’s output into something that resembles a half-cogent, somewhat interesting, quasi sale-able piece of writing. Why not take that function further? Why not have a copywriter?
A copywriter is somebody who sits down with you as you explain your ideas. He slavishly endures the pain that is necessarily to get your ideas into written form. He has you peering and frowning over his shoulders as he types. He is responsible for the countless revisions that you demand to have his output approximate your brilliance. To him, the noxious gas; to you, the shining, beautiful gem*.
You may say that a creature with such a job already exists. He’s called a ghost writer (not to be confused with a ghost buster). From accounts by ghost writers I’ve read, they are abused creatures. They’re inevitably stuck writing in the attic. They have either much-too-voluminous-and-who-knows-how-they’re-relevant materials handed to them, or bare passing fancy with which they’re to spin into a “respectable length” book. They work under extreme time pressure. Much like secret agents, their existence is denied by those who employ them.
Such is not to be the lot of the copywriter. The relationship between the copywriter and the author (if not writer) is one of close collaboration. The author and copywriter will sit side-to-side; one will talk, the other will type; the author will read as the copywriter writes; feedback is continuous. Some may feel that this is intellectual dishonesty, that the final work has not been entirely produced by one hand. This is true, but why should that cause us discomfort? Many professions separate the generation of an idea from its execution. Think of architects and actual builders: fashion designers and tailors; software engineers and coders. Why not authors and copywriters?
In any case, this is my dream as I sit down to write my first college essay (in a long time). Alas, there is no copywriter to be found, and even if there were one, I cannot afford him.
(* I realize that hydraulic fracturing is not to extract gems, but oil and natural gas. But think about how the sentence would’ve looked if I had acknowledged that: “To him, the noxious gas; to you, the natural (but still very toxic) gas”? Who would want to hire a copywriter after that poor copy advertising?)