I don’t make many blog posts these days. Mostly because I blogged for a long time and I’ve pretty much said what I want to say about writing, but today, I’m feeling inspired. Or, if not exactly inspired, then fired up?
Last night, I listened to an interview with a writer and throughout the interview, I couldn’t help thinking that this particular writer has a very healthy attitude toward her craft. She enjoys it, and even when she talked about running into roadblocks, her general philosophy was that they happen and you just move on. That it’s all part of the process of creating art.
No matter how the interviewer tried to goad her to admitting it was hard, or depressing, or frustrating, or the depths of misery to write, she skirted around those ideas because clearly, she didn’t believe it has to be that way. But she was also afraid of actually saying: I enjoy writing.
And I know exactly where she’s coming from. Enjoying creating art is practically taboo. It’s like you’re saying, “Look at me! I not only wrote this, but I had fun doing it!” and that makes you arrogant. Or at the very least, annoying to all the other writers who are busy living in despair. I find this very sad. So many writers act like it’s virtuous to suffer for your art and I just can’t buy into that. Countless times I’ve read quotes like, “I like having written, but the actual writing is the worst. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s drudgery.”
Really? That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.
And while this may not prove a popular question, I’m going to ask it anyway. Why the hell do you do it if all it brings you is misery? I am a firm believer in spending my life doing as much fun stuff as I can, but especially my art should be fun. It should be a blast. Even the hard days. Even the days where you throw out a third of what you’ve written. I’m sorry, but that actually excites me because when that happens I realize I’ve had a breakthrough. I never lament those ten thousand (or fifty thousand…yes, fifty thousand) words I throw out because it was fun doing them the first time around and what I’m going to replace them with is fun, too!
For years I had a job I hated. It’s been fifteen years since I had that job, but I can tell you right now that I still dream that I work there and wake up in a cold sweat full of dread. If writing ever did that to me, then I would find something else to do with my time. It’s not virtuous to suffer. You don’t have to wear black and moan to be good at your art. In fact, I think the more fun you have, the better your writing is. At least, that’s true for me.
And just to be clear, I’m talking about the actual writing & editing process here. Not publishing. Publishing’s hard on everyone because Art and Business are trying to marry and they’re different species. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a great editor to work both sides for you, but no matter who you are, sometimes you’re going to get screwed over by publishing. There was a time not so long ago that I thought I hated writing, but the truth was that I was so wrapped up in my publishing path I was mixing the two together. And then one day, I realized that my job is to write and my agent’s job is to handle that stuff. Ahhhh…peace.
I remember in drama school a teacher telling me as I fought the process (because of my insecurities), “It’s called a play for a reason.” If I’m going to spend time suffering, it’s going to be because I’m doing mundane tasks like the dishes or the taxes, not how I spend eight hours of my day.
You might be reading this and thinking, “Oh, that’s all well and good for her. She’s the exception.” Or even, “She’s lying.” But the truth is that we can all enjoy our art. We just have to choose to. If you prefer to suffer, if it makes you feel like you’re getting to the heart of your art, or it’s just how you function best, then go for it. But I want to say what that writer in that interview was afraid to say last night.
I love to write.
Even when it’s tough. Even when I go in the wrong direction and have to throw stuff out. Even when I have no idea if it’s working or not. And I’m not going to apologize for that ever again.
I love to write. So there.