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Writing: it doesn't get any easier.

Aug 10, 2012
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Writing: it doesn’t get any easier.

The writer David Rakoff died of cancer last night, and while Googling him, I came across this video, “Why I Write (And Why It Only Gets Harder).”

In his book, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, Rakoff admits:

Writing is like pulling teeth.

From my dick.

In Half Empty, he talks about the necessary pain-in-the-ass of the first draft:

Writing—I can really only speak to writing here—always, always only starts out as shit: an infant of monstrous aspect; bawling, ugly, terrible, and it stays terrible for a long, long time (sometimes forever). Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw, ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to reverse-engineer a meal out of rotten food.

He goes on to talk about the writer feeling a “constant beginner-hood” and how “mastery” in writing is elusive, as opposed to all other grownup tasks:

As a child, the distance between desire and execution was a maddeningly unbridgeable chasm. What the mind’s eye pictured and what the body could achieve were altogether different… but then hands grow from smudging little mitts into useful instruments… One progresses from novice to adept with a soothing reliability. Except for writing. Well into adulthood, writing has never gotten easier. It still only ever begins badly, and there are no guarantees that this is not the day when the jig is finally up.

Starting work on my third book, I’ve certainly felt this pang — isn’t this supposed to be easier than last time? Shouldn’t I fucking know how to do this by now?

Here’s Keith Ridgway in his recent piece “Everything is Fiction”:

I don’t know how to write. Which is unfortunate, as I do it for a living… I’ve written six books now, but instead of making it easier, it has complicated matters to the point of absurdity. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Filed under: not-knowing.

167 notes

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  9. raradivalicious reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    This is how I feel every single time I write….
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  14. viehfutter reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    Sometimes what seems discouraging is actually reassuring solidarity.
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  18. gottulastudios reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    mind while I struggle with...own fear of writing. For me every time
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