Monday, April 19, 2010

Is Writing Fun?

Rachelle Gardner did a post on this recently, and I think it's never a bad time to revisit this question. I find that many writers have universal experiences which makes it so easy for us to relate to each other. 

I have this theory, see, that writers are the whiniest people ever. We whine when we have to sit for hours on end and the final result is about 500 words, and 500 bad words that we're probably going to end up cutting out later anyway. We whine when the plot doesn't go our way. We whine when our characters decide to not do what we planned for them to do in the beginning and RUIN OUR WHOLE GRAND MASTER PLAN, DAMN THEM. Just who is in charge here? Then we glumly admit that we are not in charge at all and whine about that. We whine about the unwieldiness of first drafts, and we whine about the tediousness of editing. When we're doing one, we always say it's the worst part of the process and reminisce wistfully about the other. We must be thoroughly unpleasant people to be around when we're in one of our "writer moods," which is probably why we hang around each other on the Internet. If anyone listened in our our conversations to our writerly friends, they'd probably think we were bitter people who hate what we do (or maybe mentally unstable people who hate what we do). I mean, we're never happy with what we have! Or very rarely anyway. One minute, your project can be the most wonderful thing ever, the thing you carried in your head for nine months and birthed in glory like some kind of postmodern delivery of Athena, the thing that brings you joy and light to your eyes, and you would never ever EVER part with it, and the next minute, you're about to throw that shit out the window and maybe rip it into pieces and burn it for good measure just so if you kicked the bucket in the next 24 hours, it wouldn't be able to tarnish your name after death. 

Admit it. We are whiny. Do we even enjoy writing? It's like being in labor, except being in labor ALL THE TIME. Without drugs. Well, I guess you could do it with drugs and some authors did.* I think sitting in front of a computer screen staring at a blank document and not being able to come up with anything is the worst feeling in the world. It makes me cranky and irritable and gives me headaches and I am thoroughly miserable when it takes me so long to come up with 500 crappy words.

But I also don't think I've ever thought about giving up writing for good. It doesn't even cross my mind. Why would it? I've just spent the last two weeks without writing because my schedule doesn't permit it and it's not a good feeling. It's like there's always something niggling at me to get back on track. I think for most writers, it is this way. You can try to run away from it, but it will follow you everywhere, like a stalker. Into your bed before you go to sleep. Into the shower. Maybe it hangs from the light fixtures when you go shopping for junk food at Meijer. So you know what? I think it is a universal truth that not writing makes a writer more miserable than writing ever could. For all of our whining, we know it to be true.

Besides, I think it is also a universal truth that when you get those moments when everything flows (you know what I'm talking about), you feel like you just flew so high you found yourself orbiting the moon. When you finally write "the end," it's even better. 

And that's pretty fun, I'd say.

*I do not recommend easing the pain of writing with drugs. You could end up famous, but you could also end up dying in a gutter with your brain swelling into your skull wearing someone else's clothes and drunkenly calling out random, cryptic names (like how Edgar Allan Poe was found). Also, much worse things could happen nowadays. Imagine if Edgar Allan Poe had Twitter or a BlackBerry when he was drunk. He'd probably drunk-text everybody and it would be all much more embarrassing than even dying in someone else's clothes in a gutter, which is pretty embarrassing in and of itself. He'd probably end up on Texts From Last Night and his publicity would be so bad that his agent and publisher would drop him and he wouldn't even be famous.

So really. in this day and age, you can't afford to be a drugged up author wearing a beret and writing in cursive with pens, no matter how misleading my picture is. 

Unless you're J.K. Rowling. Then, as Maureen Johnson said, you could write everything on paper napkins and toss them into the sea one by one and your publisher would send out people to go fetch them and blow dry them and transcribe your priceless words onto a Microsoft document. 

But. You are not J.K. Rowling.


  1. It is astounding how little control authors have over the story, isn't it? And yes, I'd say writers are very whiny, especially while writing poetry. ;)
    But I think part of it is because we're very affected by what we write. It's the passion, the need that makes us go insane. And it's not entirely fair to say it's just authors - any artist, I think, whines quite a bit. And yet, like you said, who would quit?
    Fantastic post, I'll try to be more up-beat from now on. :)

  2. What do you mean we're whiny????

    Hehe. Such an accurate, funny post. Too bad the whining isn't as hilarious in Real Life.

  3. I'm really good at whining about having no time. And just about everything else writing related!

  4. God, I'm having the worst day ever. I feel like our books suck, we suck and that we're never EVER going to be a success in this God forsaken business. My life is OVER.

    Wait, I can't believe you're accusing writers of being whiney! The nerve....

  5. Dude, I was *just* thinking about this the other day. Although, like LiLa, I am totally offended by the insinuation.

    I have this theory that writers aren't ACTUALLY whiny (stay with me here), or not more than people of any other profession, anyway. BUT because we have an online community and this forum where we can discuss the highs and lows (okay, mostly lows) of writing, we WHINE. And maybe it's a good thing too, because if we release all our whininess, then our characters are less likely to be whiny. So everybody wins!

    OH! Btw, I just saw your comment on my blog. The contest only ends tonight! If you want to enter, there's still time! :)