I saw this quote come across my Facebook newsfeed today. Two years ago I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Today it struck home. You see, two years ago writing was the farthest thing from my mind. Writing of any kind but especially poetry. In my mind, writers sat before their typewriters (or computers, rather) and the words flew onto the blank page from their minds or hearts or souls or wherever the words were born. Sure, I knew that writers suffered blocks, periods when the words simply weren’t there. But the dam eventually broke and the words flowed forth once again unabated. Filling page after page with the greatest of ease.
Once I’d been bitten by the writing bug, I realized just how naive those thoughts really were. I’ve suffered from periods of writer’s block which did eventually end and the words did again begin to flow. But the truth is that Nathaniel Hawthorne was dead right! Easy reading is damn hard writing! What many non-writers don’t know (and I shudder to consider myself a writer still) is that good writing is rarely easy. Even when the words flow, even with motivation and inspiration present, writing is hard work!
I am reminded of another quote by another fairly famous writer you may have heard of, Oscar Wilde. He said,
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”
It is like that sometimes. Writers struggle not only with inspiration and story line and character development but with matters of language and grammar, form, style and more. We will labor over the smallest, seemingly insignificant details. We will make a change only to change it back later. Good writing is far more than inspiration, it is perspiration as well. Perspiration is the water that wets the ink well. Gaining this understanding gave me a new and very personal understanding of the phrase “labor of love”. If you write, you know and understand this all too well. If you don’t, then keep this fact in mind and just maybe the next novel or short story or poem you read you will leave you with a greater appreciation for what it took to create it.
Thanks for the inspiration, Terrye!