‘Bob dislikes writing, but likes having written’

'Bob dislikes writing, but likes having written' Phyllis has always said: "Bob doesn't like to write, but he likes having written."

She used that line again at the eighth annual Bishop Paul V. Dudley Excellence in Media Award presentation in Sioux Falls recently. I got the plaque, but she upstaged me with that quote.

She's right, however. Writers are supposed to suffer with each written word. They're supposed to court the muse (whatever that means); and, when interviewed about their wordsmanship, they must always say how hard their labors are and how lonely the occupation is.

Heck, I don't do any of that stuff. Writing is my work, that's all!

It's like plowing another field or pumping another gallon of gas. Nothing more, nothing less. The hardest work I do is when a typewriter key sticks.

Oh, I guess poets and some novelists have to sweat blood in order to produce their finest verse of deathless prose, but I'm not one of them.

Working journalists are a lot like me. They've got stories to write, space to fill and deadlines to meet. No use complicating that with philosophical drivel.

I'll probably get castigated for destroying the writer's mystique, but if it's truth you want, that's it!

I don't think that Phyllis and Clarence Justice, the first Bishop Dudley award-winners, trouble themselves with thoughts of everlasting glory. They just put out another edition of their weekly Grant County Review in Milbank because that's their job.

And Phyllis pens her column � "Ain't It Awful" ��with no signs of sugar plums bobbing in her head. She's got something to say, and she says it. I hardly think that she's "courting the muse."

The same is true of Bernie Hunhoff, co-publisher of South Dakota Magazine, and David Kranz, political writer for the Argus Leader, other Excellence in Media recipients. Unless I missed something along the way, they, too, are just working stiffs like me.

Of course, it's nice to receive recognition for our "writing gift" � as Jill Callison of the Argus Leader called it ��but we've got to keep it in perspective.

On the other hand, I puffed up noticeably when Bishop Robert Carlson � who presented my award � said that only the Bible is quoted more often by him than With Faith, Hope and Tenacity, my history of the Sioux Falls diocese.

"I've stolen stuff from you left and right ? and people think I'm the greatest historian in South Dakota," Bishop Carlson said in giving me my prize.

I wanted to say: "Just call the gospel-writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and Bob" � but I didn't!

Instead, my reply was: "The late comedian, Jack Benny, (when he received one of his many awards) said: 'I don't deserve this, but then I've got arthritis, and I don't deserve that either.' "

It seemed to fit the occasion. Whether I deserved it or not, the recognition was accepted in the right spirit � for all who write "because it is their job!"

© 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz

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