“Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Harvey MacKay
I am reading a captivating, well-written novel, the girls, by Lori Lansens. I haven’t finished it, but I ran across a passage that rang so true for me as I writer, I wanted to share it.
“…I’m filled with confidence when I begin, but by the end of a writing night I’m left to wonder if other writers feel the way I do—that with each letter, word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, I’m digging a toehold, gripping a rock, a fool on a mountainside, alone and ill-equipped, a disastrous fall more likely than a gloried ascent. Why did I start climbing? Where am I now? Who gives a shit if I reach the summit?”
Though I could never have worded it as eloquently as Lansens did, I do have those “why” and “who cares” moments. My answer is always the same – I’m doing it for me, I care. The joy I get out of writing is enough to keep me going.
I don’t support myself by writing (though I’d like to), so I’m certainly not in the same league as the writers interviewed in the guardian.co.uk for the article, "Writing for a Living: a joy or a chore?" I found the replies to this question very interesting.
I liked Al Kennedy’s (no relation, as far as I know) comparison—“To use a not ridiculous analogy: Sex = nice thing. Sex For Cash = probably less fun, perhaps morally uncomfy and psychologically unwise.”
Carol Joyce Oates said, “…most literary writers obviously don't write for money – a prose fiction writer's hourly wage, broken down into units, would be in the modest range of the US minimum wage of the 1950s – approximately $1 per hour.”
She goes on to say, “To me, who has written for most of her adult life, in a number of genres and with wildly varying degrees of "enjoyment" and/or "misery", it's likely that writing is a conscious variant of a deep-motivated unconscious activity, like dreaming. Why do we dream? No one seems to really know, just as no one seems to really know why we crave stories, even or especially stories we know to be fiction. My experience of writing – of writing these very sentences, for instance – is invariably a blend of the initially "inspired" and the more exacting, or plodding, execution of inspiration.”
John Banville said, “The novelist daily at his desk eats ashes, and if occasionally he encounters a diamond he is likely to break a tooth on it. Money is necessary to pay the dentist's bills.”
Julie Meyerson sums it up, “I feel very lucky to be paid to do it, but even if I'd never been published, I think I'd still be writing. I love being read, but the person I'm really always writing for is me.”
So you tell me, is writing a joy or a chore?
Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: Harvey Mackay, Lori Larsens, the girls, Al Kennedy, Joyce Carol Oates, John Banville, Julie Meyerson,