There’s a Conspiracy Against Writers

 

Ernest Hemingway had lots to say on the subject of writing, some of it pretty discouraging. Take this, for example:

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” [Ernest Hemingway]

That brought to mind other familiar quotes:

“Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” [Gene Fowler]

“There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” [Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith]

 

“Writing is not hard. Just get paper and pencil, sit down, and write as it occurs to you. The writing is easy—it’s the occurring that’s hard.” [Stephen Leacock]

 

There are aspects of writing that are undeniably difficult, but it appears some authors want us to believe it’s excruciatingly painful. I always thought they were being humorous, but what if it’s a ploy to make us appreciate their considerable talent and the effort they’ve put forth; or a conspiracy to discourage new writers from trying to enter the elite and exclusive society of the published author?

Surely it can’t be! We writers claim to be a friendly, encouraging bunch. A contract or two wouldn’t change us that much, would it? There have been a few blog posts recently dealing with envy and jealousy on the part of the aspiring writer, but we haven’t heard much from the opposite perspective. Is it possible there is a protective instinct at work?

Think about it. If we never burst through the barricaded doors, there’s more elbow room inside for those who got there before us. Less people to share the hors d’oeuvres and chablis.

Is this possible? Sure. Is it likely? Hmm… after due consideration, the other side of my brain says not. Otherwise why would so many successful authors lend a hand at conferences and on their websites? Why would they care enough to write helpful books? To make money off those of us who want to be where they are, you say? Oh, no. I think it’s called “giving back”. I’m sure that’s what it is.

So ignore the masochists. Take heart. Listen to the more encouraging authors out there.

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent.” [Richard Rhodes]

Fear not. I bring you tidings of great joy. Oh, wait… I’m ten days early with that quote. Sorry.

~

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13 thoughts on “There’s a Conspiracy Against Writers

  1. What a great way to look at it! Most writers I’ve run into have been extremely willing to help newer writers.

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Speaking for myself only, I am delighted when someone I have mentored has success in whatever they are doing. It’s like watching your favorite child accomplish a dream.

    My eldest daughter just finished her BA in Florida, graduating magna cum laude. Yes, those are my buttons rolling past you on the floor. She did it all by herself while working full time. She will be 51 on Christmas Eve. Glad tidings indeed!

  3. Nothing hard about writing; now editing, that’s a different matter.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”

  4. Katt says:

    I laughed out loud about Gene Fowler’s comment.
    Writing is as easy as breathing for me. The drops of blood form when I start editing—I would rather gnaw off my own arm—-:D
    Thanks for this post
    Merry Christmas my sweet friend
    Love you
    Katt

  5. There are times when I feel the pain that those masochistic writers describe, and other times when my writing experience is joyful. What an encouraging post, Carol! Less turmoil, more courageous pressing on! Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Blessings to you…

  6. joylene says:

    I just found out that some of my police procedures are incorrect, so I’ve been spending the last week revising chapter three. Chapter nine, ten and thirteen are next. Bleeding? No. But I have a belly ache and my neck hurts and my butt is spreading. Pretty soon it’ll be hanging over the chair. I’m feeding on cookies for nourishment. Woe is me. Just lastnight I was thinking “Too bad I couldn’t hire someone to fix this mess.” lol

  7. For me it isn’t fear that holds me back; it’s lack of self-discipline. As with most things, it’s easier to talk about writing than to do it.

  8. christicorbett says:

    Carol,
    Thanks for all the great quotes!
    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

  9. Julie – I’ve always found them helpful, too. The prominent ideas expressed in this post are a mixture of tongue-in-cheek goofiness and things to consider. 😉

    Judith – Congratulations to your daughter! That’s putting her talents to work and looking to the future with optimism. I’m sure you had a lot to do with her goal-setting.

    Dr. Tom and Katt – Editing requires a lot of concentrated effort, that’s for sure. I spend a lot more time on revisions and editing than I ever do on the initial writing of a story. But unlike you, Katt, I don’t mind them. I find the creation part of writing exciting, but the polishing part more satisfying.

  10. Carol Ann – There are ‘seasons’ of writing, aren’t there? Some times are easier than others. I’ve never experienced a true writer’s block, but I’m sure that must be one of the most painful experiences to work through.

    Joylene – Oh, you have my deepest sympathy! Writing while the juices are flowing and doing the research later is what many of us do, but all that revamping to accommodate the necessary changes is a headache. I hope all those cookies are making the job easier. Shortbread and gingerbread and ???

    Carol B – Getting motivated can be hard. I usually find planning ahead for writing sessions is a good idea. It encourages a habit, which, like any habit, gets stronger and easier with use. I like the word ‘habit’ better than ‘self discipline’, anyway. 🙂

    Christi – You’re welcome. I love finding meaningful quotes, altho’ these ones are a little goofy. I tuck many of my favourites into my writing binders.

  11. Jenn Hubbard says:

    Hee hee! We say it’s hard because often, it is.* And we help each other because it’s hard. And because this isn’t a competition, but a collective building of our literature. Art isn’t mutually exclusive; we all add something, so why wouldn’t we welcome more additions?

    *My personal difficulties are knowing how to achieve the effect I want/tell the story I mean to tell; and having the courage to delve into dark or vulnerable places for the material.

    • “… this isn’t a competition, but a collective building of our literature.” I really like how you put this, Jenn, because it emphasizes the sense of camaraderie and common goals that I’ve experienced in the writing community.

      Being able to expose vulnerability is hard. Mary DeMuth is one who has risked a lot to share her tough experiences. I don’t know that I could be that open.

  12. That last quote–that’s a kicker! I mean the one before the last one. 😉

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