[NOTE: I wrote this some time ago, and then promptly got sidetracked and forgot about it. Last night I stumbled across it while I was, naturally, looking for something else. I do not remember what motivated me to write this piece, other than perhaps to boost to my own morale, which obviously was flagging at the time. I hope you find it helpful to your own writing endeavors.]
Whether we are successful, published writers ourselves, or merely wannabe’s who refer to ourselves as “writers” instead of writers, all of us who practice this frustrating vocation or avocation of stringing together one word after another after another love to read about the successes of others who are cursed with the same maddening affliction.
Is this just another example of the old adage, “misery loves company?”
Perhaps. Over the years, I have done a lot of reading about writing, reading words that were, of course, written by writers.
I have also collected from various sources quotes about writing that I have found inspiring. Some are from well-known wordsmiths, others from the not so well known.
Here are a few personal favorites of mine:
“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.” George Eliot
(Strictly speaking, that one is not about writing, unless you chose to make it so. I do.)
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the entire trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow
“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” Alan Dean Foster
(If I believed in religion, I would pump my fist and shout “Amen, brother!” to that one. Since I do not believe in religion, I will still pump my fist, say “Amen, brother!”, and declare the phrase to be a figure of speech that has entered the public domain and is no longer connected to religion. So there.)
“I’ve been a terrible under-achiever my entire life, but it’s my intention to be one hell of a late bloomer.” Lucius Shepard, in 2001
(I do believe he made good on those intentions before his death in March 2014.)
“To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.” Anne Rice
“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.” Ralph Keyes
Another take on the same theme:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London
Last but certainly not least, here is what has become my all-time favorite quote about writing. This is the one I have printed, framed, and hung so it’s visible on the wall directly behind and above the screen of my laptop:
“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you’re writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” Agatha Christie
I make no pretense at having half the talent or dedication Agatha Christie had as a writer. However, in my darkest hours of gloom over the flaws I perceive in my own writing, and there are plenty, it helps, a little, to know that others have had the same problem and were able to overcome it.
How? It’s simple, really. Simple, but NOT easy! The source of our common anguish has its own built-in cure. Writing is the curse, and writing is the cure. Day by day, week-by-week, month-by-month. If you keep at it long enough, eventually one of two things will happen.
One morning you will wake up, go about your business, and during the course of the day you will read an article about something you have written that has caused a stir, caught the public’s fancy, and become very popular. And you will shake your head in wonder as you see yourself referred to as an “overnight success.”
Or, you won’t.
A bit anti-climactic? Of course. But isn’t that so often the way with reality? Uplifting, inspiring, happy endings do happen, but mostly only in fiction. Real life doesn’t often work that way.
Much of the time, real life is incredibly dull and exceptionally boring. Which is why people read. (Need I add, it is also why some people write.)
If you are like me, you will continue to write. Whether you are driven by the desire to leave your mark on the world, or a desire for wealth and fame (ha!), or simply out of sheer boredom, you will keep on writing.
And as you do, never, ever, forget what that paragon of prolific pencil pushers, prolonged paragraph partitioners, and pointed punctuation practitioners, Ray Bradbury, said in my number two favorite writing quote:
“You fail only if you stop writing.”
Thanks for reading this.
Wood Village, Oregon
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