A while back there was a lively debate going on over at Casa Zigmond about the joy of writing, and it got me to thinking about our perceptions of what we do and the reasons behind why we do it.
I’ve run across any number of writers who claim they “suffer for their art.” I can’t help it, but whenever I hear that, I have this vision of a woman sitting at the kitchen table with her hand melodramatically planted on her forehead, sighing. “Ohhh, how I suffer.”
I may be given to less empathy than the average bear, but this whole notion of suffering for one’s art makes me want to drink Draino because I want to scream, “if it’s that painful, then quit doing it!”
As was brought out on Sally’s blog, the earth will keep turning if you don’t write, so the idea of “suffering” takes on a measure of sacrificial conceit. And really, does anyone like a martyr?
To me, the long and short of this whole writing thing is that it’s gotta be fun. Fun is the catalyst that keeps me going even when the words flow like that mistake of a spaghetti sauce I attempted last night. Yes, there are days when I read what I wrote over the weekend and wonder what demonic possession caused me to write such utter garbage. But I don’t lose sight of the big picture; that I chose this avenue of expression.
Now that’s not to belittle the notion of suffering when writing. Oh my holy liver, do I ever suffer at times. It’s easy to get lost in the grind of the goal – agent hunting/publication – and forget the fun of the journey. Likewise, writing to meet a deadline can take the jam right out of my jelly doughnut. But that’s when I have to stop and recalibrate my perspective. I chose this thing called writing. Even though there are times when I wonder what force of madness convinced me I could write, there is the ultimate joy of cranking out a well-turned phrase or a scene that made me cry.
If there comes a day that I have to psych myself up just to sit down to write, or I become that woman at the kitchen table with my hand planted on my forehead, I’ll hang it up. Because then it really is suffering. Crikey, life’s too short for that.