WHAT I HATE ABOUT WRITING
Hello. My name is Bill.
And I write.
Writing is one consistent joy that has woven its way through my life since the early days of my youth when I wrote all the time without even realizing I liked and wanted to do it. It was just something I did. I can’t think of any other great joy that has stayed with me so consistently. Guitar lessons? Gave them up after a couple years. Doctor Who? Loved it as a kid and teen. Wandered away in my twenties. Found it again in my thirties. Rodeo clowning? Well, okay, I’ve pretty much always been hooked on that. (Note to self: must buy new rubber nose. Also, insurance.)
Suffice to say, I love writing.
And I hate it.
Hate it a lot.
So like all things I hate, I decided to make a list of why I hate it. It’s therapeutic. Cathartic. Well, mostly it’s FUN.
So here it is.
- Writing is Hard. Words. Sentences. Together. Playing nice. Then paragraphs. OH MY GOD! PARAGRAPHS! It’s exhausting. Finish one page. There’s another one after that. Plot. Characters. Logical transitions. Nuking dangling participles. It’s a huge pile of stuff to deal with. And even after you scale that mountain, you’ve got another summit to scale. Specifically…
- HOW Do I Corral the Thought-Mice Scurrying in My Brain and Put Them on Paper? Short story or novel? Screenplay or theatrical script? Pithy essay or bathroom stall missive? And don’t forget comics and graphic novels, and apps and e-books and blogs and…ow! Mouse just stomped on my medulla. Brain just snapped. Ow ow ow!
- There Are So Many People Out There Who Write Better Than Me. You non-writers read something and think, “Yeah that was good” or “That sucked.” Writers read something and think, “That bastard nailed it. I hate that guy.” Or, conversely, “That book sucked. How come he sold more than me?” I love my time on Twitter, except that I’ve “met” lots of great writers I didn’t know before and read lots of new books that really tick me off, they’re so good. I hate how much that keeps motivating me to do more and more and more and more and more….Which reminds me
- Writing Doesn’t Leave You Alone. At some jobs, the whistle blows, you put down your hammer or your stethoscope or the leg-breaking device of your choosing and go home. The work is out of sight, out of mind. Not when you’re a writer though. The ideas follow you everywhere. Maybe a title. A funky character trait. A little bit of dialogue. People always know where I am by following the trail I leave of little scraps of paper with these kind of notes jotted on them. I have computers and tablets and smartphones and all that where I could store my thoughts, but nothing compares to those little half sheets of paper with half-illegible – well, three-fourths illegible – ramblings. People think e-readers take the atmosphere and personality out of books and I feel the same about note-taking. Point is, a writer can’t stop writing whether he’s at the keyboard or not, except for sleep. And bongo playing. But I always have a notepad nearby for even those times.
- Cooked, it’s mushy and smells funny. Raw, it looks like the “abnormal brain” Igor gave Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein”. Whoops. Sorry. That’s what I hate about cauliflower, not writing. Writing smells like a freshly opened bottle of Flintstone vitamins.
- Writing Takes Up a Lot of Time.I don’t watch nearly enough TV. My weary bookshelf is doomed to collapse under the weight of books I don’t have time to read because I’m so busy writing. Blech! Hand me the remote.
- Writing is Embarrassing Writers are a weird mix of introvert and exhibitionist. We’re content to sit alone for hours at a time with our thoughts shunning all sunlight but consuming every source of caffeine invented and then some. But then can’t wait to share the fruits of that solitude with anyone we can make sit still long enough to listen; all the while terrified what they might say. Maybe it’s a little bit like a prostate exam. You gotta do it, but that doesn’t make it any less mortifying. Okay, maybe not.
Too stressful. Takes too much time. Too uncertain. Too unrelenting. I can’t take it anymore. So that’s why yesterday I decided to quit writing.
And then I wrote this blog post.