Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Second thoughts ...

... at Petrona: The struggle to write.
I'm no big fan of Garrison Keillor, but I think he was more right than not in his piece about whining writers. Come on, agonizing over a phrase a la Flaubert is nothing compared to sand-texturing a wall in a large store (I know because I've done both).
To quote Kenneth Patchen:

The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes
Who played with me when I was ten,
Christ, before I'd left home they'd had
Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs
Seared by hot slag ...

Writing can be hard work - but it's not the sort that ever killed anybody.


  1. Hear hear, Frank, I would far rather spend a day writing than painting a wall or shovelling coal.

  2. I remember a quote from Ogden Nash, "People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up." Nash might have added that they don't work nearly as hard, and their work is typically nothing like work. Writers, who definitely are in the class of people who use Sitzfleisch more than anything else in what they do, may not make much money, but they also don't work anywhere near as hard as the guy or woman in the factory or on a delivery route or in the building trades. Garrison Keillor is right. The person on the blog site who disparaged Keillor as a hack sounds resentful of Keillor's success. Keillor may be popular, he may even be a popularizer, but he is anything but a hack. To make a fetish of Graham Greene sweating to squeeze out his 500 words a day -- no more, no less -- or of Gene Fowler's writer who stares at the sheet of paper until drops of blood form on his forehead -- well, that's what it is, a fetish, and, as Robert Mitchum said of acting, "It beats working."

  3. Anonymous4:35 AM

    It's been difficult to comment here lately, Frank. You keep putting up topics I agree with and I don't want to keep coming in with "I agree! I agree! Amazing! You're so right!" I'll look like a sycophant and we can't have that. But on this one I can't stay out. I wish I could say that writing wasn't fun and was easily equivalent to, say, repaving Fifth Avenue in the middle of August, but it's not. Everything takes effort to do well, even if it's just a hobby, but if someone writes well enough to make a living at it, then I don't think they've got any cause for complaint because it's a really nice way of making a living. You can set your own schedule, work from home. Plus you get to tell everyone what your opinion is without having to listen to them tell you why it's rubbish (unless of course, you're blogging, in which case for your own pride you do have to 'entertain challenges' and respond accordingly, but hell, that's fun too!).