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Kerry’s Corner: The Unpleasantries of Writing

Hi, it’s Kerry – thank you for stopping at my corner of the Print!  If you want to hear the inconsequential ramblings of a girl whose mind whirls at a million miles per hour then feel free to continue reading.

According to some guy called Hemingway, ‘there is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit at a typewriter and bleed’.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but clearly Hemingway never suffered with a little old friend called Writer’s Block. Writing is that simple, apparently. All I should do is bust open a vein and pour myself out onto a blank page. Lol. Ok. Sit down, Ernie Hemingway.

What really annoys me about this quote is that it supports the myth that certain kinds of self-regarding writers like to perpetuate. That real, serious, grown-up writing is full of pain and misery, and that a writer is a kind of soothsayer/martyr/prophet who accesses this terrible personal darkness to bring back deeper understandings for the rest of us mortals.

Immediately, I’m calling out bullshit. Writing can be difficult, of course. Anybody who has tried to string together a sentence at some point knows that. But then, anything worthwhile or interesting can be difficult. Playing piano can be difficult. Trigonometry can be difficult. Skateboarding can be difficult.  Playing piano whilst skateboarding and doing trigonometry is, I hear, exceedingly difficult. But, difficulty is not something we should shun. The world is full of difficult things, yet people continue to conquer them (I’m yet to conquer trig, but hey, nobody’s perfect!).

Sometimes people must do difficult things, but very often, people do difficult things because difficulty can be fun. Some form of pleasure is gained from beating the odds. It seems to me that writers find themselves in this scenario. Sure, writing is difficult, but pleasurably difficult – unlike opening your veins over your typewriter (particularly if you are the one to mop up afterwards!).

Writers, I suspect, don’t like to admit this, because it makes them shallow. Much better to look like a martyr; much better to look like the sufferer, than to admit that this whole writing business might actually be fun. But there is nothing shallow about pleasure or happiness. Pleasure is about engagement with the world, it is about richness and about depth.

Very often, when writers talk about pleasure, they like to give it a tinge of bloody, excessive darkness, because that seems so much more grown-up and serious and all that jazz. Since when did it become a bad thing to find pleasure in the lighter things in life?

As somebody who not only writes, but who also studies the art of writing, it seems to me that this stuff about typewriters, suicide and the notion of the suffering writer is counter-productive and, to be quite honest, rather depressing. Sure, it’s time-consuming. Yes, at times it is not a constant pleasure.  However, writing is definitely not devoid of all pleasure entirely. And when you find yourself ‘in the zone’, when the sentences string seamlessly together and the words just flow, these are the moments when writing is addictive.


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