Monday, January 24, 2011

The Privileged Pain of Writing

Over on that delightful distraction, Facebook, one of my friends, Melinda Henneberger, expressed pseudo-annoyance with people who claim they just luuuuuuv to write. She later expressed the sentiments about writing I share: I prefer having written to the actual writing. One of  comments described writing as a "privileged pain."

Where do you stand? Privilege, pain, or both? Do you just luuuv writing so much that you would write even if you knew that you'd never get published, that no one was ever going to read your work? Is the drive to write so strong that you cannot bear the thought of going for more than a day or two away from the keyboard or pen and pad? If you were stuck on a desert island, would you write anything more than "Help!" in the sand?

Do you write in hopes of fame? fortune? an excuse to drink? a reason to flout the rules, cheat, act all artistic? Do you write because you want people to say, "S/he's a writer." Do you write with visions of your serious-looking mug on the back of a book, of people recognizing you as you stroll through malls, run through airports, search for seats at movie theaters? What's your excuse for the time you spend alone instead of in a soup kitchen, for spending more time with imaginary people than with your own family?

Samuel Johnson weighed in on the question this way: "No man but a blockhead, ever wrote, except for money." What say you?