To Write Is Hard


If there’s anything that makes me feel really jealous, it’s an ability to write fast and write brilliantly (and the two, of course, rarely go together, therefore basically defining a true genius as far as I am concerned). Writing always reminds of my favorite quote from Cioran’s “Letter to a Faraway Friend”:

What consumption of coffee, of cigarettes, and of dictionaries merely to write one halfway decent sentence in this inapproachable language, too noble and too distinguished for my taste!

Although Cioran’s writing about French, not English, it’s still a rather accurate sentiment. It took me half a day today to come up with a decent paragraph which means that at this pace I will never be as great and prolific as some – what a pity! what empty existence must await me in the future!

In any case, back to the production line: paragraph two, here we go!

7 thoughts on “To Write Is Hard

  1. it’s an ability to write fast and write brilliantly (and the two, of course, rarely go together, therefore basically defining a true genius as far as I am concerned).

    Well, sometimes you’re just wrong like everybody else. I admit it’s not too often that you’re this obviously egregious, and it probably means you just want to make sure you’re not a ‘genius’. All well and good if that’s your preference to be miserable, but speed of writing something has nothing to do with quality at all. Lots of great writers (and composers) take longer with certain kinds of work than others. Some novelists can throw off essays easily, and take a few years on a novel.

    Not that I don’t usually like Cioran, but talking about getting a sentence together with coffee, cigarettes and dictionary is somewhat unseemly, and romanticizes ‘writer’s block’ and ‘writer’s filth’ at the same time!

    • I was sort of semi-serious about this whole thing. I was trying to hint at it with the final observation that life without having written much is miserable, if you listen to certain philosophical types that put effort into blogging about their writing process.

      I certainly don’t think that speed and quality have anything to do with genius. I’m not sure I have anything to say vis-a-vis being a genius of any kind, partly because it’s just such a bad taste to talk about yourself in general.

      I actually enjoy writing slowly, I can’t imagine trying to survive in an environment of constant pressure to publish. I like to take time and write a paragraph a day. It’s not like I have anything else to do with my time, right?

  2. partly because it’s just such a bad taste to talk about yourself in general.

    LOL! love it. Can’t imagine who (among others) that might be applicable to. I like ‘a bad taste’ rather than ‘bad taste’ too. Reminded me of Rosemary Clooney’s old silly (and wonderful, if you heard her do it live) song ‘Come on-a My Place’. ‘Eet’s such-a bad-da taste-a’.

    I already had to apologize to Dominic today for having a bad taste.

    “if you listen to certain philosophical types that put effort into blogging about their writing process. ”

    Yes, there is a lot of this. I’ve been working on real writing this week (I know, more bad-da taste-a), and much of the time it is so much harder than blogging that you’d rather talk about how hard it is than do it. This time I was finally enjioying (the polishing part always begins to have a sensation to it, you’ve left behind all that mud-slinging and trudging and wondering if any of it is even decent), so I noticed that I actually liked it better than writing on zee bleugs. Blogging is much more recreational, that’s why with this current book, which took me forever to get close to print time, I am especially pleased that I wrote all of it out in pen or pencil, before typing it on the computer. For me, that does make a huge difference, but even so I couldn’t really tell for sure the difference in writing of my own that I myself at least consider serious and just more internet recreation. But that was because writing it out by hand really was hard to do. I used to also like to edit first with paper copies, so I printed a whole one out, but I find that that I really do prefer to use the computer for, and then it’s ready to send as an assignment. I think of the paper draft I just got this week as no more than an emergency backup in case the computer perished, although it’s also on someone else’s.

    • I always write more in pen than ever makes it onto a computer screen, so it feels like a waste of time (achievement-wise) but it’s more fun, even if my handwriting is becoming more and more incomprehensible. Scribbling things down and then not using them is a kind of luxury that I like to think I can have – somehow the neurosis of making sure one publishes every single damn thought one ever had is a sign of the apocalypse. Wasting a couple of good ones here and there or forgetting them completely is a small but important pleasure, me thinks. I do of course occasionally have “I simply must write this down!” moments but at most times it’s a sort of “if it’s that good of an idea, it’ll surely come back around in some form or another”…

      Man, seriously, this exchange is like so Harman-like that I fear for my self-esteem were I to reread it tomorrow, so let’s just end it with a shameful admission that writing about one’s writing habits is indecent but perversely satisfying.

      • Okay, sorry. But remember I’m about the only resource in these parts that is innocent in at least one way: I don’t know when things are ‘Harman-like’, so I have to be taken and educated. I wasn’t at all sure he was the one you were referring to, since I don’t ever read his bleug unless somebody says something specific. It’s like when I heard he was somebody’s ‘father figure’, and nearly passed out with the Twilight Zone sensation.

        “somehow the neurosis of making sure one publishes every single damn thought one ever had is a sign of the apocalypse.”

        Maybe the first good use of the word ‘apocalypse’ I’ve yet heard.

        Okay, I’m in danger now, so will shutup.

  3. assignment = attachment. This is my 3rd publication of any importance, and the first one I also wrote out by hand first. The second I composed on computer, and I’m pleased with the results, but there’s a certain speed that is in it as a result of the ease of the computer. There were one or two small errors I spotted only after the printing that I think I even blame on having been sped by the computer. And although I think it’s better than the first, I think this one has the more opened-up quality, even though it’s nearly killed me. I think I believe your post title ‘It’s Hard to Write’ I have a version for: ‘It Should Be Hard to Write’. Because this was so hard to write and took so long, that I now think I must insist upon this suffering for all the rest of persons’ endeavours.

  4. Damnation, I obviously can’t be accurate to save my life. The FIRST one I also hand-wrote in pen, I believe, before typing up. And that one had some ‘rushes’ in it too. So it’s not just the computer. But I still think Baudrillard was right that the computer does do a lot of the work for you, and that it’s important to not always do word-processing. I think most who agree with me like to use old-fashioned typewriters rather than pen or pencil, but I don’t have one, and they are too much trouble with ribbons, etc.

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