A Passionate Commitment

I had been planning to add this as an “update” to my previous post: “The (Writing) Support Bubble.

Then I decided that post was long enough and this was worth its own post.

It stems again from this tweet from this independent author:

[From Twitter.]

And this time particularly this reply to that tweet:

[From Twitter.]

Writing, that writer argues, does not have to be a “hard grind”; and that it is thought to be, that writer also tells us, is a cliché.

The addition of the “cliché” comparison to the “struggling artist” especially confirms that the observation on writing not being a “hard grind” was not just some glib tweeted throwaway line, but an assertion that was being offered there quite seriously.

I was so stunned by that in the previous post I wrote this about it:

Wow. To me, writing novels is about doing the BEST writing you can for READERS – people actually willing to part with money to read what you have written. It is not about pretending to make it appear to be a “hard grind.” In fact, doing your BEST at anything you do in life – including writing – usually does require real effort.

And I feel more needs to be said about that. I have encountered no numbers of quality-driven writers who have ever maintained that writing fiction – be it whether for several weeks of seven hours daily, or, say, over six months of maybe three hours each week – is NOT a “hard grind” every time you sit down in front of a keyboard. The “hard grind” itself SHOULD hit you the MOMENT you are in front of that keyboard.

Yes, anyone who has been taught to write in school can write, but what we are talking about here is writing fiction the BEST we can. If you as a writer think writing is a breeze, in my view – and I suspect that of lots of others – you are NOT putting enough effort into it. You can – and should – always be striving to do it better.

A couple of examples from my own personal writing experience. First, although this below is the opening page, probably unsurprisingly this was not the first writing I did for my first novel. As I recall I started with writing the World Trade Center and New York subway chapter (meaning, chapter 7). However, I did go back and write this not long after that:

[Excerpt from Passports: Atlantic Lives, 1994-1995, Paperback. Copyright, 2013. Photo by me, 2021.]

It is written so “simply” because I wanted the book to be an “uncluttered” read: a page turner, one might say. Yet writing “simply” is usually “complicated.” It took a lot of effort there to try to convey a sort of youthful and even naive sense of what many of us – men or women – similarly have experienced, and most of us, I suspect, can well-relate to “James” in those opening lines I composed in 2012-13 and in much of the book that follows them.

Second, this next you may also know is the opening page to the first novel (2017) in my second and far more “historical” series than the era of Friends – and which has rather deliberately more “complicated” writing in some ways compared with that first book, as well as 1700s-1800s “period” English:

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Paperback. Photo by me, 2021.]

Also unlike my very first book, I think I started this one pretty much there – at the beginning. It took me I don’t recall how long to be “satisfied” with those just five paragraphs. It also took me a year and a half to complete the 550 page novel that followed.

Those are not perfect paragraphs either, I know. But I was trying to think of readers – including what they might already know, and maybe not know – in looking to make those paragraphs flow, to start to try to draw them back to a bygone time that is largely alien to us today, and to give hints that much more is to come… and I gave writing that, and all that followed, the BEST I had.

Let’s also be honest, ultimately this is what you as a writer want: you hope to be paid for your writing:

[Email from Amazon.]

It seems some indie writers actually expect people to throw their hard-earned money at them as writers for something that they as writers believe is in fact NOT all that “hard” to do? And particularly in this pandemic economic climate, when some people can barely pay for food and rent? Really?

I have never done “bells and whistles” self-promotion of my books well at all. I just can’t bring myself to fill my social media with the likes of what many other writers do. Yet I still do okay – readers do find my books.

[Photo by me, March 2021.]

When I see or I am told someone likes one of them, I feel I have truly accomplished something: they PAID for it. A “hard grind” is what is required to make writing special and memorable for your readers, and since they are PAYING you “owe” them at least that much. If the expression “hard grind” does not make sense to you, perhaps instead call it a passionate commitment to getting it as right as you can reasonably manage.

The bottom line is, if you as writer think a Stephen King believes writing well does not require a “hard grind,” you need to revisit your authoring mindset.

Clearly, Douglas Adams did not consider writing all that “easy” either.

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂