1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Wasting Time ... or, writing

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by skip.knox, Feb 16, 2022.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    7,199
    5,127
    313
    I just read this. It's from Deborah Eisenberg.

    “Whether it is done quickly or slowly, however splendid the results, the process of writing fiction is inherently, inevitably, indistinguishable from wasting time.”

    Truth.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2022
  2. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

    2,270
    1,371
    163
    Funny...I feel like a lot of things are wasting my time, but writing is not one of them.
     
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    7,199
    5,127
    313
    Same for me. I think it's more how it's view from the outside. Much thinking and staring, interrupted by fits of activity and accompanied by mutters.
     
  4. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    561
    533
    93
    That would be almost demeaning were it not for the fact that it came from an author of her stature. I wonder what it says about her own writing style? Maybe it's because I'm dyslexic, but I don't even reach for the keyboard unless I know what I'm going to write. So when I write it looks as though I'm working hard - which I am given my disability.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    7,199
    5,127
    313
    There is truly a huge range of experiences in writing. I daresay in every form of art. A range in the actual production of the thing. So much so that there's probably nothing that can be said that doesn't entail exceptions.
     
  6. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    561
    533
    93
    True enough. But I'm still not sure her comment is positive.
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    4,742
    1,696
    163
    Been doing more map making than writing these past few months as prep work for the website. Can't decide if it's a waste of time or writing. Doesn't help that the one world defies conventional mapping - had to make a global key for it, which was a bit of a challenge.
     
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

    2,270
    1,371
    163
    As i see it, anything that keeps me fron the stuff i most need or want to do is a waste if time. And i have wasted so much time in my life.

    and maybe sometimes with writing. But i always enjoyed having written when i finish it.
     
  9. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Auror

    1,025
    533
    113
    I think it's a rueful self deprecating comment. Perhaps a bit of humble brag. Not to be confused with genuine insulting.
     
  10. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Inkling

    444
    231
    43
    If taken literally, this is just wrong. There are many good reasons to write fiction. Perhaps, as Rosemary Tea said, she's just being excessively self-deprecating.
     
  11. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Inkling

    444
    231
    43
    + it's not indistinguishable from the inside. The feelings when writing fiction and when wasting time are very different.
     
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    7,199
    5,127
    313
    >I think it's a rueful self deprecating comment.
    That's how I read it. Maybe she'd heard comments along those tones. Aren't you done yet? How much time are you going to spend researching? You've been editing _forever_. What, you're abandoning the book and starting another?

    That sort of thing. I thought it a concise aphorism; something like the more famous "I hate writing, but I love having written." Which is my all-time favorite.
     
  13. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    561
    533
    93
    You know, if my daughter was an author and I heard her make a comment like that I'd ask myself what I'd done to give her such poor self-esteem. Because to me this isn't self-depreciation, it's much more negative than that. Being Swedish I know all about the so-called protestant work ethic, it's quite a common attitude here. I'd argue that there is no such thing as time wasting, because sometimes you have to just switch off as a way of relaxing and dealing with stress. That was why I started writing - and I've never heard any of the sorts of comments skip knox mentions. With that in mind, and given my dyslexia, I find it odd that an author would be so self-depreciating. It makes me ask why the author concerned is even writing, because it gives the impression that they don't enjoy it. And if you don't enjoy writing why are you doing it?
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    7,199
    5,127
    313
    >if you don't enjoy writing why are you doing it?

    That's easy. It's because I can't help it. I've been writing my whole life, both fiction and non-fiction. I leave it to others to judge whether I do this well or poorly, but in the end it doesn't matter. I am compelled. Driven. Not to create great art or to say something Significant. I just tell stories. This turns out to be more difficult than it sounds, but I keep doing it. I've tried stopping. It makes my teeth itch.

    So I write. Right around fifty-five years it's been going on. Shows no signs of slackening. I also love composing and playing music, but that also takes a ridiculous amount of time. But I'm not driven to it the way I am to writing. Enjoyment really has nothing to do with it.

    I recognize this is not the case with other writers. I hear some say they love it. Good on them, sez I.
     
  15. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Auror

    1,025
    533
    113
    Maybe this is a cultural difference. That kind of self deprecating comment is very common for Americans to make, in my experience. And not just about writing. And it's really humor rather than an insult. "Ha, ha, I'm such a procrastinator," is the thrust of it. People joke in a similar vein about procrastinating on their taxes, or their house cleaning, or work for their job... anything, really.
     
  16. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    561
    533
    93
    Yes, I'm aware that self-deprecating comments can be humorous. The British are particularly adept at it. Even we Swedes use that sort of humour sometimes. But to me the quote doesn't quite come across that way, at least not in this context. Whilst I might be self-deprecating about my writing in terms of subject or standard I don't think I'd ever describe my own or indeed any profession as a waste of time, even in jest. To me it's going a little too far and it's disrespectful to those others in the profession who work their socks off.
     
  17. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Auror

    1,025
    533
    113
    I think there's something deeper in the quote. Not just self deprecating humor, although I do see a touch of it in there, but a serious observation that the writing process and wasting time can look very much alike. The difference is what comes of it.

    If a single mother on welfare spends her days in coffee shops scribbling some far fetched ideas about a boarding school for wizards onto napkins, instead of, you know, getting a job and not being such a drain on society, wasting her time? If anything that doesn't produce an income is time wasting, then yes... but the single mother on welfare who did that became the richest woman in the world as a result. If it hadn't worked out that way, would she have just been wasting time? Some would say so. I'm not sure it's a respectful thing to say, but people would say it.
     
  18. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    561
    533
    93
    The trouble is, your example doesn't work. J K Rowling was earning as much as she could through work (about $20 per week) without losing her welfare benefits (about $100 per week at the time) wjhilst waiting to start her teacher training, and she wrote in what time she had over in between work and looking after her young daughter. Writing in your spare time is a choice you make, and I'd never suggest that it was a waste of time.
     
  19. Rob Arnold

    Rob Arnold Dreamer

    15
    2
    3
    Ultimately everything comes down to this, if you, or hopefully at least one other person is happy you did it...then it wasn't a waste of time.

    We're all going to die
     
  20. It is how a fair few non-writers view writing, just for the sake of it. If you tell someone you're writing a story, then one of the most common questions is "When is it going to get published?" Or you get the negative version: "there's no money in writing / getting published these days is impossible".

    The follow on idea is that writing only has value when you publish, and as such, that if you don't then you're basically wasting time.

    So while it's a pretty self-deprecating thing for a writer to say, it's a fairly common idea non-writers have.

    Note, I don't actually agree with this idea. There's nothing wrong with doing artistic stuff just for the sake of it. Just like playing the piano for fun or painting or whatever is good for you, so is writing, even if you never intend to publish.
     
Loading...

Share This Page