I hate having written.
Writers and their umpteen wannabees adore prattling on in endless repetition and lazy revisions of quotations, and one of the most head-scratching quips that makes the round is the oft-misquoted line from Frank Norris back in 1915 — “Don’t like to write, but like having written.”
Really? There are writers who don’t like to write, or, in the misattributed and otherwise mangled versions, actually “hate” to write? If one hates writing, why write? It all just reminds me of the panoply of tomes on how to be a writer that are almost nothing but long lists of methods of fending off writer’s block, disregarding the obvious fact that writer’s block means you have nothing to say, so do something else until you do.
I love the moment of writing. I love the anticipation of it, that fuzzy, sizzling sensation of stories boiling out of the back of one’s head, and I love the still space when I am with my writing instruments and a strong mug of tea with milk and earphones full of the kind of music that delivers me to that ecstatic plateau of elevated sensitivity that’s shared in the spiritual, the emotional, and the sexual, when all those channels to the unseen realms open like flaring nostrils in the cold and the fine hairs of the forearms rise and ruffle in electric waves.
I reach in, and it comes and comes and comes, the sound and the rhythm and the little bits of cantankerous play of meaning deconstructed into the chicken-scratching characters in constant mutation in the head and on the page, and it is easily one of the few moments when everything in the world is joyously and almost indescribably right.
It’s after writing that I lose interest, which is why my manuscripts fester in dark corners, because the tedium of marketing is the enemy of the celestial. I know it’s there, I know I need to engage in it if I’m ever going to make a career of writing and performing, and I know that I am very, very bad at it, but despite the urgency of practicality, I’d still rather just set the fires burning again, take the keys, and sear a new path through the world.
© 2015 Joe Belknap Wall
(originally posted to medium.com)