Sunday, February 25, 2007

On Writing # 4

My last post explains why I write so little. I ended by comparing writing to coal mining. Well, hardly. Writing is safer. The ceiling rarely falls on you, and you don't usually have to worry about poisonous air. The pay is bad for most writers; but let's face it, most of us are going to have a day job and write for the praise and fame. Coal miners in nonunion mines get bad pay and little fame, unless there's some horrible disaster. No one wants that kind of fame.

So, I withdraw the metaphor.

But it's interesting to me that I stress the difficulty of writing and not the pleasure. Do you remember the Merle Travis song about coal mining? "It's dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew, the dangers are many, the pleasures are few."

True about coal mining, but not true about writing.

What are the pleasures of writing? Getting chapter or a scene or a line right; having the members of your writing group draw smiling faces on the margins of your manuscript; getting published and seeing your words on paper; getting a good review; having people come up to you at a con and say, "I really like your work."

Being good at a craft and knowing it. Making other people happy. Expressing yourself. "Self-expression is the need of my soul," said archie the cockroach. (I will cap the sentence, though not archie's name.) Saying something true about the world to the world. Making something beautiful.


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