On Writing.

Credit to me and my Canva skills.

I.

Writing is a terrible profession and an even worse hobby. Most writers are underpaid, overworked, and miserable. (I, on the other hand, am overpaid, underworked, and still miserable). But when you write for “fun,” as I do, you do not have the benefit of editors, deadlines, or a dedicated audience. (Should I have used “nor” in this preceding sentence? Who knows!)

I suppose I should explain why I hate writing, even though I offer it as a “passion” of mine when someone asks to describe myself. Writing is a painful process; most of the time, I bang my head against the wall, searching for words. Occasionally, I will hit my head hard enough and a few sentences will fall out; sometimes, one will be decent-enough for the final draft. Writing, though, can be cathartic and I think this the main reason I do it. In the same way that a painting allows others to see the colors that only a painter sees, writing prose allows me to express my view of the world.

But when I do a final review of a piece, often any inspiration that I had that caused me to write the first word is overwhelmed with my deepest fear as a writer—that I am writing cliches. I hate cliches. There is nothing worse than a cliche. I will do anything not to write a cliche. A fear of cliches most affects my writing of short stories, but it also affects my polemics. When I write an opinion piece, I often feel like I do not have enough knowledge on a subject to write anything of value; even if I research a topic thoroughly, I worry that my conclusions will be banal platitudes unworthy of anyone’s time.

II.

I insult the writing profession even though it is my dream to write for The New Yorker. In this dream, I am a prominent member of the intelligentsia, living in the world’s cultural capital, and writing the most brilliant prose which captivates and moves my large and diverse readership.

Of course, I have and am none of these things. But I can still dream.

III.

I have an amazing idea to save the dying journalism-literature complex: bad writers like me pay to get our work placed in newspapers and magazines. Good writers, of course, still get compensated for their work. Say goodbye to click-bait journalism!

IV.

Supposedly, Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks while working at a power plant. I spent more than six weeks working on this piece. I bet Faulkner even got a promotion during that time.

V.

Some say adulthood is about giving up on your dreams. I guess I’m not ready to be an adult yet. I love to write. It’s not financially rewarding; but it is personally rewarding.

In high school, I started writing the worst short stories ever. Now, I am a privileged college-graduate who knows enough about good writing to realize I am not doing it. Maybe I would get better if I focused on one genre of writing; I currently oscillate between short stories and essays.

At any rate, you should pursue your passions, even if they don’t pay the bills. No, I don’t mean by quitting your job. You should still show up on Monday to the office. But maybe on Saturday, instead of buying on a product that allows a billionaire to buy another sports team, you spend the afternoon building a canoe, or writing bad fiction, like me. That’s because our passions fulfill us more than anything that can be advertised on TV or bought from a Walmart.


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