Weekend Reads #71: On Writing

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

Again, I hopped over to Sara Letourneau’s blog for inspiration because I couldn’t think of anything. In a recent Weekly Writer Wisdom post, she asked this question inspired by a William Gass quote (I focused on the questions rather than the quote in my response.):

How do you view the act of writing? If you could compare writing to other activities or process, what would you liken it to? Why? What other thoughts do you have when you read this quote?

I haven’t written in so long that I feel as if I’ve forgotten how to write.

Writing is a daunting task. It never goes the way I want or even expect. What I want to say or communicate never sound as well as it does in my head.

It’s like drawing, in a way. When I try to draw an image, it never looks the way I see it in my mind. I wonder if this is because of lack of skill, which it could be, or if it’s just impossible to reproduce what one has in mind, which makes the act of writing and drawing or creating something from one’s mind seem a little crazy.

I mean, what’s the point of creating something that will never look the way you imagine it to?

I guess that’s what turns me away from writing, and drawing.

I get intimidated by my inability to do what I really want to do. I feel as if I’ve failed before I even began. That feeling is so strong sometimes that it’s hard to push myself forward, to take a leap and believe that what I produce will be good in the end, or at least acceptable.

To me, writing is like walking for miles to get home so you can pee.

Which sounds strange.

But I had to do that once and it was a struggle.

I opted to walk home instead of taking the bus, one day, because the day was pleasant and I love to walk. All was well when I started out, but at about a mile or so from my house, I suddenly had the urge to pee. Between where I was and my house, there were no stores or even large trees or bushes to squat in. Plus, the walk was along a busy highway so I thought someone would see my butt sticking out in the low bushes.

I decided to hold it and continue on. My house wasn’t far, I told myself. I could make it.

But as I continued walking, the pleasant day became uncomfortably hot and the urge to pee became more insistent.

The quick mile home loomed before me and the distance seemed to increased as my desire to get home grew stronger.

My walk seemed impossible and I was convinced that I would pee myself.

But I was determined to make it home dry, so I focused on each step taking me closer to my destination, rather than on the throbbing pain in my belly from holding my pee and the sweat pouring down my face from the now uncomfortably hot weather and the focus needed to keep my myself moving forward and not pee.

When I got home, I was so relieved I almost wet myself at the door. I dashed inside and had one of the best pee in my life.

That’s how it is when I write.

It’s a deceitful torture that is pleasant at first, slowly builds to a height that I think I can’t manage; but once I reach my destination, I am happy, relieved, and proud.

Writing is a struggle.

I fight to find the right words and wrestle with my sentences.

There are times when writing is sweet. My thoughts easily flow and the words are there, waiting for me to pick them up and fit them into my sentences.

But other times, most times, I crawl around searching for words, finding crumbs, and can barely use them to form sentences.

At those times, my body reacts to the writing and I sweat.

But always, when I’m done I’m happy, relieved, and proud.


What I’m reading this weekend:
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

I completed this book of short stories yesterday. It’s such an engrossing and unsettling read. I really liked it, which surprised me because I thought I wouldn’t like short stories because of their brevity.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

I’m restarting this one. I borrowed it from the library way back in January or February, but haven’t completed it. I’m sure the library thinks someone stole it (they didn’t check it out to me when they rang up my books). I swear I’m going to return it when done.

So, what are you reading and how would you describe the act of writing?

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17 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #71: On Writing

  1. That’s perhaps the most creative and amusing metaphor I’ve ever heard used for writing 🙂 I know the feeling though of struggling to write and then feeling relieved and happy once you’ve done it. For me it mostly feels that way with plotting, or trying to solve an issue I’m having with a plot/character. I wrestle with it for ages trying to decide on a solution, and it’s really frustrating hard work, but when I finally figure it out and can keep writing or editing the story it feels great!

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  2. Writing is definitely a hell of a challenge! Easy at times, hard at times, in the end, it’s the experience and the final result that makes it so much fun. Great thoughts! And very interesting books you’re reading now! 🙂

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  3. As a writer, I absolutely agree that writing can be very, very difficult. The act of trying to capture the images you see in your head in words takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, and a lot of patience. It’s beyond frustrating – even disheartening – when you work on a novel, blog post, short story, etc. for draft after draft and it’s still nowhere near ready. But for me, it’s also one of the most fulfilling and rewarding parts of life. I don’t really know how else to describe it, except that your description of feeling “happy, relieved, and proud” at the end comes pretty close. And I think that’s what keeps me going, after all this time.

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  4. I find writing to be very daunting of late as well. I seem to have the words in my head and lose them the minute I try to commit them to paper or blog 😦 I am super excited that you enjoyed Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez! I am nervous about recommending such heavy or dark titles for the obvious reasons 😉

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