Friday, November 16, 2012

Writing is Hard Work

If I had a penny for every time I've heard "He's a hard worker," I'd be rich.

These same people, the ones with a strong work ethic, I imagine, don't appreciate the writer who spends enormous amounts of time behind a computer screen, writing fictional stories.

But, I wonder if people know how hard it is to write? We Americans pride ourselves on a strong work ethic, which doesn't, I'm sorry to say, include writing, even though it's pure mental acuity and intense focus. But, if there is no compensation, it's worthless--according to the nonwriter. Yet, if I asked a writer if he or she thought it was a waste of time, I already know the answer. Why? Because I'm a writer and no time spent on words is ever wasted time.

Strange as that sounds, a writer, oftentimes, is compelled to write. They find a story in the details of life. They are walking recorders, noting the oddest moments and storing for later use.

But I attest, it's hard work. As Ernest Hemingway puts it "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Yes, it takes an emotional toll. You are delving into your subconscious and tilling the soil, weeding out the fodder of your darkest regions. But, still, you go there, you keep at it. As Gloria Steinem says "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel like I should be doing something else." How true. I, too, have never felt more alive than when I'm writing.

Writers, true writers, rarely fail at writing. As Ray Bradbury states "You fail only if you stop writing." So maybe it's that nagging fear of failure? I don't know for sure. I have work that needs revisiting, that I need to finish. I know I will, but I feel as if I'm intentionally avoiding it. Once I return, it will take hold of me, and I will be forced into that realm until it's finished. I could never accept that failure, the notion of not finishing a wip.

And last, but certainly not least, attesting to the intensity of writing, F. Scott Fitzgerald says "All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath." You are never more focused than when you are writing a sentence, choosing the right word, creating a scene. It is not even a feeling you can articulate. It is the weight of each word and image pressing on your soul.

So there you have it. I've quoted the greats who concur that writing is indeed hard work, but well worth the time and effort.

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