Thursday, February 27, 2014

Writers Don't "Love" to Work

The geezer long has argued with those who cheerfully exclaim, "I just love to write!" I've been at it for a bit more than a half-century, and creating new deathless prose still qualifies as work, not pleasure.

The fun part, I maintain, is that good feeling when you think you've turned out something worthwhile. Even more satisfying is the discovery that someone bothered to read it. And if anyone says they liked your offering--WOW!

I think what does apply to the hundreds of writers I've edited and the many others I've shared thoughts with over the years is this: It is not the act of writing writers love, it is the result (when the result is even a little bit positive).

Today, with expectations of at least a trifling reward, I fully intended to concentrate in solitude and create a brilliant, fascinating, compelling post for your approval. Darn, a whole lot of important tasks took precedence. I'll just have to wait for another time to feel the love.


Kay said...

I agree about the result. I'll be waiting for your masterpiece.

Alan G said...

I'm sure that's quite true, especially if writing requires you to put food on the table and a roof over your head. Love the pictorial parody!

PiedType said...

Maybe next time ... Meanwhile, great ideas require proper amounts of contemplation.

Tom Sightings said...

You're so right. Writing is just like beating your head against the wall: It feels so good when it's over! said...

Gertrude Stein expressed much the same idea when she said, ' writers don't like to write, they like to have written." I don,.t analyze it too much, I just do it. If you're expert at something you can usually say something. Just write like you speak unless you are a man of few words. Dianne

Vic Eichler said...

Found your recent blog of interest. I've always enjoyed writing . . . to increase my understanding of a subject more than the result. Thus, I was surprised to read your words: "I think what does apply to the hundreds of writers I've edited and the many others I've shared thoughts with over the years is this: It is not the act of writing writers love, it is the result (when the result is even a little bit positive)."

What I love about writing that excites me is the research that goes into discovering how much more there is to a subject than I thought, integrating this information with what I already know, synthesizing a story from what comes forth and then creating a write that will impact others. This is actually the method I used when I was a university biomedical researcher and teacher.

I just published my 10th book; the first four were when I was an active researcher and the last six were self-published since moving to Michigan and retiring. And I must honestly tell you that the events after creating the story do not compare with the happiness experienced while creating the write! For me the follow-up to the write would include everything from deciding the layout, illustrations, number of pages, cover design and then the printing, binding, advertising and marketing strategies to get the books to the public. All of these are really quite enjoyable, really, but it is the writing that I Love.

Dick Klade said...

Vic,you may be privileged to be part of a small group of writers who are the envy of all others. Reluctant writers were the norm during my 18 years editing the offerings of scientists. Well do I recall the mutterings of administrators who spent a lot of time trying to persuade the researchers to get their findings out of their heads and filing cabinets and into print. That was the situation despite the fact that the scientists' pay grades and prospects for promotion depended on publishing.

My sample groups were not small. The Forest Products Laboratory had about 100 scientists when I worked there as a writer-editor. Some 80 were PhDs. The Intermountain Research Station, where I worked for 14 years as Director of Research Information, had 70 scientists on board, and about 60 were PhDs. In addition, both organizations processed manuscripts authored or co-authored by several hundred cooperators most of whom were professors at universities.

The only guy I can remember who insisted that he "loved to write" was a Deputy Director (an economist) who hadn't published a thing in 10 years at the time he tried unsuccessfully to convince me how pleasant the writing task was.

I do agree with you about the joys of research work. One of my two published books is a history of Forest Service research in the interior West. Producing it was a two-year project. I delved into thousands of documents and photo files and experienced the same joy you describe whenever an obscure, but important, piece of information came to light. However, the act of writing segments and chapters after the research had been done was not the part of the process I eagerly looked forward to. I buckled down and did that mainly because my contract specified that hefty paychecks would only appear when the writing was finished, reviewed, and accepted.

By far the most satisfying part of my history book project came after copies were delivered by the printer and messages of congratulations and favorable reviews appeared.

If you love the whole process, you indeed are fortunate, my friend.

Thanks for sending your views.

Banjo Stve said...

I think that all that is the beauty of blogging. Short opinions/observations that are (usually) easier to write and (usually) easier to read. I've read far too many books/tomes that actually would seem to be better as short stories or short manuscripts.

Also I recall the legendary sports writer Red Smith (?) who responded to a compliment on his writing with something to the effect that "writing is easy .... all you have to do is sit down and open up a vein....."

Keep up the good work/sharing. You are indeed a pleasure to read.

Marc Leavitt said...


As a newspaper and magazine reporter,writer and editor, I understand and agree with what you say, but I think a lot of it depends on what you like, what you need,and what other outlets you have for creative expression.

Since retirfing, I've written two novels, a non-fiction work about finances and retirement (it's not a self-help book; it talks about history and attitudes toward living), memoir, various essays, and, as you know, a passel of poetry.

Of all that writing, the poetry is the hardest and most rewarding; and the process, with all its multifarious aspects (subject, type of verse, rhyme vs. blank or free form verse, etc. is highly challenging.

As a little girl said to her teacher one day, "Poetry is hard. It's not like writing."
As hard as it is, the process is rewarding, and also keeps me very busy, and off the streets.

Dick Klade said...

Recently, Marc, I tried writing a poem to post as a comment on one of your offerings. In about 20 minutes, I had two lines written that showed some promise. Nothing followed, and I gave it up.

Creating poetry is difficult, and most likely impossible for me. I admire those who do it well.