Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Something Hard and Glorious"

I stumbled upon this article by Andre Dumas and thought it worth passing on to all my writing peeps.

This road is hard. It is wonderful, and we are so lucky to do it, but it is often hard. This putting of words and our hearts on a page, of creating life from nothing, stories to tell and plots to weave and then sending it out to a world already oversaturated with stories and ambitious writers, and hoping and praying and crossing fingers that someone will read what we have written and love it, and often being faced, instead, with discouragement and rejection.

Dumas reminds us not to focus on the publication as a measure of achievement. The achievement is the writing, the finishing. Anyone who has ever typed "the end" onto a manuscript knows this is true, but oh! how often we forget!!

"A first book is a treasure, and all these truths and quasi-truths I have written about publishing are finally ephemeral. An older writer knows what a younger one has not yet learned. What is demanding and fulfilling is writing a single word, trying to write le mot juste, as Flaubert said; writing several of them which becomes a sentence. When a writer does that, day after day, working alone with little encouragement, often with discouragement flowing in the writer's own blood, and with the occasional rush of excitement that empties oneself, so that the self is for minutes or longer in harmony with eternal astonishments and visions of truth, right there on the page on the desk; and when a writer does this work steadily enough to complete a manuscript long enough to be a book, the treasure is on the desk. If the manuscript itself, mailed out to the world where other truths prevail, is never published, the writer will suffer bitterness, sorrow, anger, and, more dangerously, despair, convinced that the work was not worthy, so not worth those days at the desk. But the writer who endures and keeps working will finally know that writing the book was something hard and glorious, for at the desk a writer must try to be free of prejudice, meanness of spirit, pettiness, and hatred; strive to be a better human being than the writer normally is, and to do this through concentration on a single word, and then another, and another. This is splendid work, as worthy and demanding as any, and the will and resilience to do it are good for the writer's soul. If the work is not published, or is published for little money and less public attention, it remains a spiritual, mental, and physical achievement; and if, in public, it is the widow's mite, it is also, like the widow, more blessed."