Killer Year–The Class of 2007

Hard Drug, Soft Center
July 11, 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: Marc Lecard

Writing, damn hard.

–Anglo-Finnish poet Anselm Hollo

I’ve often bumped up against the idea that writing is really difficult, and felt a little guilty, as I guess I was supposed to.

Because I don’t find writing hard.

And here by writing I mean the act of writing itself, not the miserable, vertigo-producing encounter with a brand-new writing project, where not one word has been written and you slowly come to the realization that your imagination resembles nothing so much as an immense, arid plain with a dried-up riverbed running across it.

Beating your forehead on the keyboard in such a situation doesn’t really help, though sometimes the random keystrokes caused by head bashing can be faked into something readable.

Nor do I mean the horrible anxiety of having finished a piece of writing and, as the euphoria of creativity begins to wear off, wondering if it’s any good at all and whether anyone will read it without derision and contempt.

No, I’m talking about the actual act of writing. Putting down words, whether fast or slow, steady  or intermittent, on computer screen, typing paper or yellow legal pad with no. 2 Ticonderoga pencil.

Really writing.

Boy, that feels good to me. As an old substance abuser from way back, I can tell you: there’s no drug like it.

Even when it’s not going particularly well, when your whole writing day is haunted by the quiet certainty that you’ll end up trashing it all, it is still a pleasure to put words down.

And, no, I’m not talking about simply flinging down whatever and calling it done. I don’t mean you shouldn’t go over and over what you’ve written and make it better.

But I find that kind of rewriting and careful editing pleasurable, too. In fact, even more enjoyable, since the nagging anxiety that you won’t be able to write anything is killed off and words are on the page.

It’s a blast, is what.  A joy. A true pleasure.

Everyone is different, and for some writers maybe it really is tough. But I can’t help but be a little suspicious when I hear someone talking about how hard it is to write. Maybe it’s a little like not telling anyone about a favorite vacation spot or fishing hole, so that massive numbers of people don’t show up and ruin it. If people knew that writing is an intoxicating nerve drug resulting in euphoria, more
of them might try it and then where would we be? There are too many fucking writers already.

But writing is not hard the way stacking concrete block is hard. It’s not hard the way mopping out a public restroom is hard, or the way any low-paid crappy job you’re forced to do is hard.

So maybe describing the process as wrenching and metaphysically difficult is a way to avoid accusations of laziness. It’s a bid for respect: blood on the page.

Well, I don’t have guilt there. I’ve already accepted that I am bone lazy and don’t want to break my back to put money in someone else’s pocket.

I’d rather stay home and write.

Now there is always the possibility that I’m just a facile, easily pleased slob, shallow and glib, content to gorge to repletion on low-hanging fruit.  So of course it would be easy for me.

But what about you?

2 Comments so far
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Well, I’m one of those who thinks writing is damn difficult, and getting tougher the more I do it. I used to write just to tell a story (character,plot, tone), not worrying so much about syntax, diction, sentence rhythm, sentence variety, inverstion and displacement, accurate and arresting metaphor and simile, conciseness, voice, sonic echoes, syllable stress, image precision, reader defamiliarization, objective correlatives, allusion, etc. etc. Now I think about all that shit and write one damn page a day. THAT’s what going to college for creative writing does to you. GREAT, isn’t it?

Comment by Derek Nikitas

Damn the MFA’s, Damn the MFA’s…

What’s so fantastic is both of you have such different writing styles and you are both brilliant writers. Many ways up the mountain.

Comment by JT Ellison

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