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I Hate Writing

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by skip.knox, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I'm posting this, which I wrote last year, as an act of sympathy and solidarity with all the writers who have talked about how difficult and dispiriting writing can be at times. With apologies to Dorothy L Sayers.

    I hate writing.

    I hate sitting down to it, forcing my fingers to the keyboard,
    hunting for words in an empty brain.

    I hate hammering letters onto the screen, where they stare back at me,
    like little black corpses.
    that I thought they might live.

    Good writing is true writing
    That's what they tell me
    Fine. This much is true: I hate writing.

    I have tried writing standing up, sitting down, lying down.
    I tried writing with a pencil, with a pen, with a computer.
    I've used a tape recorder.
    I even tried a typewriter.
    And I've hated every incarnation.

    I try to write what has not been written before.
    I try to beat dead men at what they have done.
    I try to make it up as I go along.

    I try to remember to stop when I am going good
    but some days I'm not going good. Do I keep going then?
    I hate this.

    I hate beginning, the search for inspiration.
    Inspiration is a mad fool I see only from a distance, across the rooftops.
    He dances for a moment then vanishes.
    The blank white stalks me through early hours
    it doesn't laugh, it doesn't judge,
    and it never forgives.
    It waits, patient as a stone god.

    A Londoner once said,
    you can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
    Alas, I appear to be unarmed.
    Nothing comes to me in dreams.
    Overhead conversations are little more than empty yammering.
    Scenery fills my mind with partial images, like postcards scattered on the floor.
    I pace, I start, I pace again and start again
    then stand until sunrise in the middle of my lawn.

    I hate coming back to it, revisiting a battlefield that
    echoes with groans, not with glory
    I hate the endless slog of chapter eight
    which must be followed by chapter nine.
    I'm a volunteer in the Anabasis, the long march through enemy lines
    Friendless, not knowing the language, drinking from polluted wells.
    There must be ten thousand easier ways to exist.
    I include eating glass.

    How hard can this be?
    Just write, the writers say.
    There is no secret to it, say the keepers of secrets.
    Be persistent — this, the advice of the successful.

    I hate editing.
    I drag my eyes over the text, and it's like dragging a corpse over hawthorns
    until we both lie bleeding under a cold moon.
    No one sees the struggle, and it's just as well. It would bore them anyway.
    The finished product fails to justify the effort
    I hate editing.

    Don't try to encourage me, I don't want it.
    There's no relief ahead and no turning back
    Back to the happy years of merely working for a living.

    Oh yeah, I hate writing.
    I hate groping in the dark, seeing only as far as my headlights, damn dim bulbs.
    I hate the stumble, I hate the struggle
    Why the hell can't this be easy? Like music. Like brain surgery.
    I look at those who write five thousand words a day and think
    I'd be happy with a hundred good ones.
    I'd run away from writing if I could
    I've tried to run away, I admit, but stories pursue me
    like a hound that's fixed on my neck
    I don't know where to turn

    I hate the edit and the rewrite, the careful criticism of agents
    and the useless praise of friends
    Nobody gets it right, not one of them. Me included.

    I hate writing
    I hate this itch in my brain
    the ache of the perpetually incomplete
    I finish one story and another rises up to take its place
    a zombie called forth by some
    voodoo priest in my gut
    I don't finish a story, I beat it to death.

    I hate how others love to write
    writing is a pleasure, they say,
    a joyful thing
    They can't wait to get back to it.
    They're all aliens.
    Writing for me is a sick compulsion
    that drives me into a basement
    where I slog in hip waders through sludge.
    I carry the muck out one leaky bucket at a time.
    The task wakes me at night,
    an old dog barking at shadows.

    I'm tired of the burden
    of always swimming upstream.
    I hate that I'm running out of time.
    I shall die with stories untold. They will follow me to the grave.
    They will chew away my flesh long before the worms get me

    You? You love your Muse? Well you should, that
    sweet sylph done up in art nouveau.
    Mine is a shrill hag who rants without ceasing,
    the madwoman on the third floor, always pacing.
    I have a restraining order, but she won't leave me alone.
    I have thrown her out. I draw the blinds and lock the doors and
    She screams at me a hundred and fifty one feet from my gate.

    I hate writing
    I hate editing
    I hate formatting and publishing and query letters and agents and
    blog tours and interviews and copyedits and revisions and rewrites and marketing and
    proofreading and reviews and elevator pitches
    but above of all
    first of all
    most of all

    I hate writing!

    … but I love having written.
    Reaver and kennyc like this.
  2. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    I LOVE this!!! I feel like I was your muse for this, because you clearly wrote it about my experience ;) HA! This is good stuff.
    skip.knox likes this.
  3. Smajdalf

    Smajdalf Scribe

    Very good, but I am a bit confused, you hate writing, but you wrote this, is this a revenge, or is it a trick, you are a very interesting writer. Or did I anger you with calling you a writer?
  4. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

    I once wrote a poem about how much I hated poetry, inspired by one too many assigned Emily Dickinson poems in high school. It was pretty bad, so I'm not sure if I made my point or not!

    This poem, however, exactly describes my relationship with writing! I'm happiest with my writing 2-3 months AFTER a piece is done, when I look back, and surprise myself that it's not all trash after all.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    @Smajdalf, the final line (which I swiped from Dorothy L. Sayers) expresses the sentiment. There are a couple other literary allusions in there, for those who enjoy such diversions.

    I find the act of writing difficult, discouraging and dispiriting. But once I have a completed piece, I like what I've done. And anyway, I'm driven to do it and appear unable to stop.

    As for angering me, I read the Comments section at news sites. I don't anger easily!

    @Aspasia and @CagedMaiden, thanks for the kind words.
  6. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    Loved this, Skip; thanks for posting.
  7. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    Dorothy Parker, not Dorothy L Sayers! I was expecting a Lord Peter reference... Just read every single one of those books.

    The sentiment is a familiar one, though. Bravo.
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    @Nimue: oh pooh. You are absolutely right, of course.
  9. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

    Overzealous attribution is a more admirable sin than no attribution at all. ^^

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