There comes a point in every Other Press Editor-in-Chief’s career when they get a little bit burnt out and exhausted, and the weekly writing of a 500-or-so-word Lettitor becomes increasingly daunting. I feel I reached that point months ago, and have attempted to truck along as though I have all the inspo in the world.
You may have noticed, if you consistently read my Lettitors, a bit of a theme. I imagine our Assistant Editor, Eric Wilkins, raising his eyebrows in an expression of “Uhhh, ya think?” but that theme is feminism and gender relations. In my defence, I’m a gender relations major at Simon Fraser University, so it’s totally acceptable that I have a one-track writing mind, right? (Not really, but whatevah I do what I want.) Basically, feminism is my go-to topic because it gets me riled up and I find it easiest to write about—it’s like my comfort blanket.
I remember reading previous Lettitors from previous EICs, talking about how they struggled to come up with content for the opening page of the paper. One of them talked about how the openness of being able to write about anything you want was inevitably paralyzing. Another went through a list of Lettitors that never were, because he decided that trying to write them was an exercise in futility. I’ve spoken with EICs from other papers who also experience this struggle, some writing several editorials on their inability to think of something to write about.
It’s weird that I and other EICs encounter this difficulty, because I’d say that none of us are short on opinions—in fact, the last two at the OP have been Opinions Editors. While I think that a large part of it is the daunting “write what you want” aspect, there’s also the fact that writing the Lettitor is about the last thing you think about after all of the other administrative to-dos.
I would love it (and I’m sure Wilkins would as well) if I were submitting my Lettitor early on in the week, rather than remembering that I have to write it midway through and then procrastinating for a few days. But inspiration rarely strikes, I put things off while I’m working through homework or responding to emails, and before you know it I’m writing another piece on feminism, clinging to my metaphorical comfort blanket.
It’s shitty, but chasing words and blank pages is something most writers deal with. The problem is that inspiration usually doesn’t strike, and you can’t expect it to. Writing is sweating it out and labouring over a piece until is fully formed, or at least reasonably ready for print. When I was Opinions Editor, that meant that I would spend hours poring through the news to see what struck me as particularly interesting and controversial, or free-writing to find something that annoyed me. Even then, I often turned to issues of feminism and animal rights—clearly, I’ve come so far.
Honestly though, the harried process of writing these weekly editorials probably isn’t going to change. I take pride in my Lettitors, and in choosing topics that I feel strongly about and that I think might have an impact on readers; but the nature of the job is that Lettitors are the least of the work. Sometimes that shows—as in this Lettitor—and other times I think all the research, writing, and editing that I put into these editorials shows.
There is no nugget of wisdom or advice to this; just an acknowledgement that writing is hard, you do the best you can, sometimes you flop, and sometimes you manage to scrape together a meaningful piece of writing. Other times, you write an entire Lettitor about how hard writing is—fortunately, the Lettitor’s really the only place you can do that.
Whatevah, I do what I want.