Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writing Is Easy?

Thomas Mann—the great German writer and Noble Prize laureate—said, “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.”

And I thought I was the only one. I believed what kept me off the best-seller list was that writing was so hard for me and so much easier for—oh, people who receive a Noble Prize.

In fact, if asked, I imagine most people who don’t write think it’s easy, that the words slide from our brain, through our fingers and into the computer with no effort on the author’s part. I imagine most people think authors love every minute of writing and every page of their manuscript.

Recently, several writer friends have told me they hate every book they write by the time they get to the end. They started off loving the idea and the characters but, with all the work they put in, they were really tired of these people. For me, the middle sixty percent of the novel is so hard I wonder why in the world I ended up thinking I could write a book or that this one would be any good. I feel as if I’m attempting to swim in rapidly drying concrete.

However, at the end, I’m always happy again. I forgive my characters for going off on their own ways and refusing to do what I had in mind.

Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” Aah, yes. Her words describe my feelings so well!

Here’s the question for writers: Does this describe your writing process at all?
For readers: Does it surprise you that many writers find the process difficult?


I.J. Parnham said...

I like the phrase about loving having written. I always know when a story is ready to send to a publisher because it's reached the stage when I'm so utterly fed up with every single character, scene, and situation that the only way I can get it out of my mind is to send it off somewhere.

If I'm still enjoying the book and generally feeling pleased with what I've done I know I haven't worked on it enough yet.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

I.J., you certainly sound like a writer! Thanks for commenting.

Sandy Cody said...

Oh yes! Writing is hard work. Somewhere in every book I wonder what ever made me think I could write a book. It's kind of like the old Peace Corp. statement "It's the hardest job you'll ever love."

Ian's test for when a book is ready to send out into the world is a good one. His statement that when he's still enjoying the book he knows it's not finished seems close to Hemingway's "never trust your darlings".

Nice post. It's good to know that I'm not alone.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sandy. Obviously there are at least three of us who agree so you're not alone!