The quote that “writing is rewriting” in one that I’ve knows for years.
In fact, I’ve quoted it to other people (and reminded myself, too) more times than I can remember over the years. But until just five minutes ago didn’t know (or forgot?) that it’s actually a quote from Hemingway…
“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”
Another quote I heard, possibly from a documentary where somebody was quoting somebody else (how’s that for some wonderful specificity) is that “inspiration is for amateurs.” The point of such a “pointed” comment, I suppose, is that coming up with an idea to write about might be the “product” of inspiration, but the getting that idea down on paper is the hard part, the craft of writing if you will.
So embedded, if you will, in that quote is the truth that writing is an action.
You have to start by actually “doing” some writing and not simply sit around waiting for some “inspiration” or for the “magic to happen.” After all, you can edit, polish and “fix” a first draft if you don’t have one in the first place.
And like just about everything else, the more you “do” something the better you get at it.
For example, I’ve written so many web pages and articles for clients over the past eight years (well over a thousand) that I can pretty much do it in my sleep, so to speak. But when it comes to writing anything that I really want to write, at the end of the day it’s safe to say that I’ve been a frustrated writer most of my adult life.
I don’t know why the word “frustrated” seems so apt.
Maybe it’s because over the years many people have said “Oh my, you should be a writer” and for most of those years I’d shake my head “no.” I don’t know why I would do that, but I had so many excuses for not writing. For not sitting at the computer and banging away at the keyboard. For coming up with reasons why it didn’t actually suit me, when deep down it’s quite possible that doing “this” does in fact suit me to a “T.”
So why not just start writing?
Was I afraid of the hard “work” of grinding out the scenes for a story? Was I simply too timid to join that hallowed pantheon of writers I admired most, and whose company I deep down wished to join?
Or maybe I just didn’t think that anything I’d care to say (and therefore share) was worthy of being read.
Ben Franklin said something along these lines…
“Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about.”
Thanks Ben. No pressure there.
When I was younger and in the service is was easier to do something worth writing about. And yes, some of my antics overseas did become the stuff of legend, so to speak. You can even ask my cousin Dee about it since she and her husband got stationed at my base about a year after I left.
Is my proverbial clock ticking? A last shot at immortality or some such thing?
Good gracious I hope not.
I was recently talking with a young writer and she mentioned how she’s writing some short stories now, mainly science fiction and nothing “serious” like a novel. So I said “hey, write what you love, love what you write.”
Not too bad, right?
Much more approachable and encouraging than Ben (take that Mr. Franklin). So on that proverbial note I decided to take my own advice and get down to “business” and started again on my novel.
Hopefully this time I can stick to my guns and “get er done.”
Okay, so here’s what I’ve been up to since posting this…
- finished and published my book of poems
- started my novel and am just about finished with chapter 4
- started a book of essays, three of which are already completed and another four others which are in various stages of being worked on
Not too shabby, right? You know, it’s amazing what you can accomplish once you overcome limiting beliefs and set your mind to just “do it.”