Art is Not Hard
17th Nov 2010 in Writing
Some writers like to whinge about how writing is hard. We struggle for hours to produce a few sentences, no-one appreciates us, the money isn’t enough to buy a Pot Noodle, blah blah.
Writing is not hard.
You know what is hard? Getting up every single weekday and going to a job that you hate, but having no drive or ambition to do something else. Never knowing what you’re supposed to do with your life. Having no talent or creativity. These things are hard.
When you write you have a purpose. You are being creative and you are producing something. You go deep into your imagination and you put words together, and that is fun. If you do not take pleasure in any aspect of the process or production of writing, then don’t fucking write. No-one is forcing you.
You want to write? Go and write. It’s easy.
This makes me think of what Sugar wrote at the end of her Write Like a Mother Fucker response:
“Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”
All Sugar’s posts are incredible, but I think that is my favourite.
Agreed. Such a good post.
And I know that part I quoted sort of speaks against what you’re saying in your post, but really, they’re both true in a strange way. Writing is hard, but it’s definitely not coal mining. I’d definitely rather be sitting here writing and reading blogs and journals and do this than being my brother, who is currently out in the 48 degree cold tying steel cable together to reinforce a bridge that’s being built. Writing is not that, and I’m grateful for that.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kim Curran and Alison Wells, Kirsty Logan. Kirsty Logan said: WRITING IS NOT HARD. http://is.gd/hhYPa #angryblog #hopefullyencouragingtoo […]
Bloody brilliant – I’m sick to death of the spate of posts by midlist authors who are being dropped by publishers saying it’s not fair that they can’t earn a living any more. Get a fucking job like the rest of us have to. However long you’ve spent being paid for doing something you love, that’s longer than 99% of people ever will. And if it’s not something you love shut up.
On the having no ambition/creativity thing – I was speaking with Cody about this when I took her her first printings of The Dead Beat to sign, and she said she sees people in stores and on the street just going about mundane lives who are happy doing so because theyw ant nothing more. In some ways it’s harder being stuck in a shitty job when you want more from life. On the other hand, as we ended up concurring, one minute spent doing something as amazing as producing art outweighs every frustrating hideous moment at the day job longing to be elsewhere.
I agree the authorly whinge is a drain on both the whinger and all other authors who read it. And I like the Sugar coal miner analogy as a motivational image.
But there are some subtle differences in those lines of work:
1. Miners don’t chip coal from the insides of their brains dislodging fragments of their personality as they do it.
2. Miners don’t scrutinise every piece of coal to check if it a) defines them as a human being b) could maybe, just maybe, influence all other coal mining from that point, only to send it off to coal collectors and have them send it straight back.
3. Miners also don’t go to bars and listen to better established miners showing off their superior pieces of coal on stage, then get into conversations with other miners who have a far superior knowledge of the best coal miners in history / avant garde online coal mining. Out of whose pockets spill impressive, throwaway little pieces of coal.
4. Miners don’t go home filled with the will to mine better than they ever have before, then spend 4 hours alone digging at what looks like a piece of coal but turns out to be a coal shaped turd.
And I bet miners whinge all day long about bloody mining.
So very true! Every time I start to sigh about how hard the writing is, I remember back to when I was a waitress, a bar tender, an ice cream girl, a deli worker, a paramedic, a dog sitter, a baby sitter, a journalist, and I think, “Damn. I’ve got the best job in the world.” And then I go and spin some more words.
Or, in the case of this particular discussion, I take the coal I’ve just dug out and try to make it into something hard and shiny and worth something.
[…] particular, this post by Kirsty Logan “Art is not hard” (coal mining, she very rightly reminds us, is hard job, writing – not so […]
Christopher, I really don’t want to seem like I think writing is somehow more noble or important than mining coal or building bridges – I don’t think that at all. If a person is doing what they want to do, and if they see value and importance in what they do, then that is noble and great, whatever that thing is. Your brother is doing an important thing with that bridge, and as long as he feels that then that’s what life is all about.
Shanna, do you think that doing all those jobs have helped with your writing? I think my shitty day-jobs help with writing, and now I’m tempted to get a job as an ice-cream girl so I can write about it!
Spot on! I remember going to a writing festival a few years ago where a young writer with “only” two incredibly successful novels was moaning to an older, very established writer. “How do you do it?” she wailed, “it’s so hard!”. I left thinking: “Well, why do you write if it’s so painful for you?” it made no sense – unless it really is incredibly easy for her and she was just pretending. Odd, eh? As if it was a badge of pride that it was so difficult. Hmm. Thanks for this.
What if you work full time in a job you hate, and then you also write? That must be hard.
Mark, that is extremely hard and I have an intense admiration for anyone who does it.
Perhaps I’m hopelessly naive, but I do think that it’s possible to get a job that you hate slightly less, though it still might not be your dream. I was a waitress for years and I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It was demeaning and boring, but it was just a way for me to be able to pay rent while writing as much as possible. I personally think a dishwasher/waitress/bartender is the ideal job for a writer, but then I don’t have children or a mortgage or a car, so my financial outgoings are very low. Everyone’s situation is different, but as long as we get to do the things we love at least part of the time, I think that’s what life is about.
Writing is easy. Revision is less easy. Getting paid enough to live off of your writing is hard.
Writing is only as hard as we make it. Fucking great post.
Oh, thank you!
Exactly! It’s so good to hear that from someone who is writing beyond university and initial education.
I hear lots of things from people who are writing to work, who grumble and moan and it’s so great to hear this.
Gives me hope!
You know a lot of people I know at uni can’t understand why I ENJOYED staying up till 4, 5 or even 6 in the morning every night of one week re-writing a script, but I loved it!
And all my effort paid off when I got to make the film and direct some wonderful actors!
Writing is great and god I’ll be so happy if I can ever find away to make a living out of it when the dreaded end of university comes.
Cheers, it’s great to hear this! It’s a marvellous blog 😀
[…] Sometimes life throws things at us that adds more to our plates and tests our ability to manage it all, our stamina and our good humour. Sometimes we throw this stuff at ourselves, and I think that’s exactly what you are doing if you are trying to get a novel published these days, be it your debut or the second or the nth. You are setting yourself up for rejection, underachievement and disappointment that you could easily do without. And it doesn’t stop after the first novel is published. Writers are continually wracked by doubt and insecurity. And once you have a book out there the pressure on you increases. You have to deliver on the next book whilst promoting the first one and carrying on with your ‘normal’ life without dropping plates. But we do this because we choose to, because we have hope, we are driving ourselves to do something that is not easy and that smacks of character. If you don’t want to write then don’t. (I’m reminded of this post, from writer Kirsty Logan “Writing is not hard.”) […]