The Problem with Writing

The problem with writing is that you’ll write about anything. The problem with writing about anything is that sometimes you write about complicated, secret things. And sometimes you write these things well. And you’re a writer. This means that you’re a little bit of a shameless hussy. It’s OK. You have to be.

If you write something, you might want someone to read it. Especially if you write it well. And so there you are, revealing it all, because you nailed that section. It was so good it couldn’t stay in your notebook. And then there’s the fallout. Shit.

But then you get tougher because somewhere in your writerly heart there is the cool observer. And the cool observer knows that that shit was fantastic. The observer knows that someone out there will read it and it will connect with her. And so you forget that your mother might read the piece as well. Writing is meant to be read. Just not by your family.

I once sent a girl a poem. I sent her the poem, partly because I wanted her to know how I felt. But I swear I sent it also because I knew it was good.

Tell me I’m not the only one.


5 responses to “The Problem with Writing

  1. As an academic writer, I share some of the anxieties and joys that you do. I take pride in the perfectly crafted sentence that can be understood only in one way: the way I intended. It is finely tuned, crisp, and concise. However, since the success of my writing is always determined by my peers, I have to wait and see what they think. Have I chosen the right journal (in order to get reviewers who are likely to be charmed by my perspective)? Have I remembered all those who came before me (there’s a genealogy to academic thought)? Is my tone sufficiently reverent, yet adequately bold? Is there what the French call an “element de decouvert” (imagine the aigues in their places please – can’t get the keyboard to comply)?

    So, even if it’s good, I can’t do much with it unless I can master all of those other matters just as well as as I master my words.

  2. I have the “hair on fire” philosophy. If it’s not setting my hair on fire, I don’t bother. On some level, I need to be afraid to write the story.

    • I run around with my hair on fire, too, and it’s in that state of mind where I often get my best stuff. But my ‘best’ stuff is usually horribly offensive. Cowardice and guilt ensue. Let the games begin.

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