Brink & Westergard Blog - #2


I love the quote I’m about to bastardize, and I have no idea who said it, but hopefully somebody else might and I can give credit where credit is due. “Writing is easy. You just sit in front of a blank page until your forehead bleeds.”

When I went through the Creative Writing program at Uvic, a great writer and fiction prof of mine, Bill Valgardson, would start each writing class with what he called his “daily affirmations”. I’ll stop using quotes after this, I promise. One of the most memorable of his daily affirmations, perhaps because it did not resonate with me at all, was: “Writing is easy and fun for me.” I know, I know – another quote. I lied. I’m a writer. Get used to it.

I guess the idea was that we could speak these affirmations to ourselves each morning while we brushed our teeth, or at our desks as we dabbed the blood from our foreheads with said blank pages, to stay positive, focused and survive the inherent challenges in being writers. The truth is, writing is NOT easy and fun for me. I wish it was, and I know it is for some, but for me, writing is the hardest thing I do, and in terms of fun it ranks somewhere below scraping burnt cheese off a casserole dish and passing a kidney stone.

For me, the fun part of writing are those initial flashes of unadulterated brilliance that formulate in my brain and then inevitably get lost in translation when I try and convert them into words. I suspect most writers are better at this conversion than I am, and perhaps with practice and more daily affirmations I’ll better develop this skillful art, but for now, I’m most enjoying this time after the writing is done. This is easy and fun for me. People buying me drinks, others trying creative ways to finagle free books from me, me practicing my author signature before signings and trying to think of cool boiler plate inscriptions I can write for people I don’t know who might actually buy the book. All of this is gravy, and I wish I could milk it forever. But I know I’m already approaching minute fifteen and that an actual career in this masochistic field requires a plethora of blood-soaked blank pages, so as a means of coping, I’ve made a slightly modified affirmation for myself that I’m happy to share with any other writer who may benefit from it: “Writing is hard and painful for me…but I’m still gonna do it.” And I will.

1 comment:

Tricia Dower said...

I LOVE Bill's affirmations. I wrote a blog a while ago about them after going to one of his lectures at UVic. Such a wonderful coincidence coming across your mention of him. Writing is not easy and fun for me either, but I'm ever hopeful that today (or tomorrow) it will be.