Writing Sucks

Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.

– Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Writing sucks. Go on, say it. It’s okay to admit it, even to yourself. There is nothing that we as writers hate more than to spend our precious minutes typing or writing or agonizing over that one silly word that just seems so out of place, but without which my whole story falls apart. We stare at the screen or the paper for a few seconds, then minutes, and then our brain finds something useful to do, like Facebook. Or scrubbing the water stains between the wall tiles in the shower.

Man Writing at Desk

Maybe this guy does it for the money.

Somewhere in the midst of all of our anguish and despair, hiding like a frightened puppy behind a wall of shame, self-loathing and our oh-so-frail egos, there is a story or a poem or an essay. And, like a puppy, you cannot stand and yell and demand that the story obey you. All that will happen is that your beautiful, magnificent idea will retreat further and further into the darkest reaches of your mind, until eventually you are so weighed down by your own terrible feelings of insufficiency that you collapse on the floor and give up the idea of ever being a writer or a poet or anything at all to do with words.

Stories cannot be ordered around. They are not soldiers. They are dirty little children trying to stay outside as long as possible after the dinner bell rings. A story must be coaxed, it must be enticed. And that can take a long, long time. Days, weeks, months or years even.

But when the story comes, and it will come, be prepared. You may not leave your laptop or your typewriter or your notepad for weeks. There is something about the rush of words that is better than any other worldly experience and more addicting than any drug. It is as though you and your story are one and the flow of energy and force that grows between the two of you can conquer any obstacle and writing is no longer a chore but a blessed, blessed gift.

Writing stories is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the weak-minded or the cowardly. Writing is for the courageous and the bold that are willing to venture out into the world they create and seek the stories out, to search for them and to draw them out with promises of dedication and persistence and love. And writing is for the patient, who are willing to give the stories room to breathe and to grow.

Writing sucks. And writing is beautiful. Story-telling is truly the oldest profession and the oldest hobby, and we owe it to those who came before us to give the telling of stories its proper and honored place in the world. Maybe it’s hard. Maybe it’s time-consuming. Maybe the money’s only good for three or four dozen people. But we don’t do it for the money. We don’t do it for the fame or the influence.

We write because there are stories out there that will never be given form if we don’t.  We write because the stories simply must be told. There are millions of stories, and they are waiting. They are waiting for you and for me to stop puttering around and to stop complaining and to write. Write well, write poorly, write quickly or slow. It doesn’t matter. If it’s there, it’s there, and you owe it to yourself and the story to give up on your excuses and your reasons and your whining and your over-sensitive ego and just do it.

This article/blog posted can also be found at Xenith.

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