My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Let's Put Them in a Jar and Shake It (Thursday's Three)

I first started to suspect that something might be rotten in Denmark when it came to writers telling others how and what (and why) to write a long time ago.  I noticed that the quotations I was so fond of often gave different advice, and it seemed like it might even be mutually exclusive advice.  But it wasn't until several years ago, seeing the Didion and Fitzgerald quotations below married on a page as a prereading exercise to an essay on writing that I realized that writers were working with personal proclivities just like those who read, but that for some reason when it came to writing everyone sort of forgot the role of individual taste and style in the process, including the writers themselves.  (I have to give Didion credit for at least having a version of her quote out in the world that uses the "I" form instead of the "you" form. It's those dead white guys you really have to be careful about!)  If you think writers are a lock-armed phalanx of artists and their every word is giving you the keys to the kingdom, think again.

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

Joan Didion

You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.

F Scott Fitzgerald

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.  

Toni Morrison

See, these guys can't even agree on WHY to write--you think they're really going to agree on how? Don't fall into the trap of listening to these sophisticated-sounding quotes too much.  They're nifty to think about, but you have to come up with your own whys, your own hows, your own whats, and your own magic. If you can't imagine not writing, if it stresses you out to go more than a couple of days without writing, if you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking about writing, you should probably write. But more fundamentally, you should write if writing brings you joy, happiness, and pleasure (or at least a sweaty sense of "hurts good" catharsis). 

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