Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mute and Inglorious

I once edited a newspaper and was in charge of a weekly column where I could explore anything I found interesting. At the time it seemed like a brilliant, but intricate, opportunity: the column would be typed, then edited and proofread, then laid out for the printer on a "dummy," set on a linotype by a typographer, then these lead type slugs were locked into galleys, proofed again, loaded onto the printing press, and finally thousands of copies were printed and distributed to subscribers and the public. I remember that as I approached the first column, I was stymied as to what I should write about. The possibilities were so extensive that the whole process seemed overwhelming.

Decades have passed, and now the process has been streamlined. In minutes I can complete tasks that once would take days, and suddenly be published to a world-wide audience. Now it is not the process that is overwhelming, it is the enormity of the opportunity. It is the vast and vacant moment waiting for eloquence, waiting for inspiration, waiting for the words to emerge that somehow would answer the call of a free and vital press...

Yet, here I am, as mute and inglorious as in those original days when the thrill of the written word was captured in the smell of ink on newsprint.

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