The longer I write–and the more I fight against writing–I wonder if we’re all just masochists. I’ve tried hobby after hobby over the years, and none of them inspire the levels of stress, angst and dissatisfaction that writing does.
Archery, a hobby that seems to revolve around tinkering with dozens of individual pieces of equipment just to get a 1/4″ improvement on a grouping of arrows–a hobby that seems like it’s purpose-built to drive people to frustration–is more relaxing than writing. At least, that’s true when you’re up against a block.
So why do we do it? The most basic–and somewhat true–answer is that when it works, when you clear the barriers and can slam down 2,000 words without realizing that 2 hours have passed, it feels glorious. But that’s not the real answer for many of us. Especially when the frustrating sessions outweigh the productive ones.
Ben Dolnick, a writer and occasional contributor the NY Times, recently did a piece for NPR about the retirement of Philip Roth, a noted and long-time author. In the piece, Dolnick explains why he doubts that Roth will stay retired.
“There are plenty of times in a typical writing day when retirement seems, even to someone much younger than 80, like the sweetest imaginable relief…. But fiction emanates from an organ every bit as mysterious, and as much beyond conscious control, as the liver. The actual work of being a writer – the generation of plots and characters, the resolving of tangled chapter transitions – goes on while you sleep or shower or walk the dog. You might as well announce your retirement from metabolizing sugar.”
Yes. That’s it. I write because… well, because I can’t not write.
And that’s why we’ve created Today’s Author–for those of us who can’t not write.