Tuesday, May 09, 2017

On Writing, part 63049762

What does writing require?  A famous quote by the American sports writer Red Smith tells us:
In April 1949, columnist Walter Winchell wrote, "Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn't quite a chore. ... 'Why, no', dead-panned Red. 'You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.
I have not found that to be necessary. 

All you need to do is to use a chain saw to open your skull and an oyster or pickle fork to pick out the bits which satisfy your present editor's demands, while carefully avoiding spilling anything pink and slimy on the keyboard (it gives you multiple fffff, uuuuu, ccccc, and  kkkkk streams if you do). 

The only complication is in making the writing seem effortless, funny, truthful and -- did I already mention it -- effortless.  Nobody wants to read laboring prose, and nobody wants to read a piece about the Comey hearings once the president suddenly fires Comey, thus killing the whole topic dead.

But if some imaginary writer had just spent most of the previous night (to 4am) writing 1300 erudite and long words on a very tricky topic past its due date, well, that imaginary writer might just patch the shocking firing of one FBI director into a post about something quite different.

Because fatigue is a shortcut to a fantastic high where words roar past us like sports cars, where sentences arrange themselves into arabesques and turn pirouettes on that full stop supposed to be their end, and the story simply refuses not to be written.

The comforting thing about owning a blog is that no eagle-eyed editor can intervene with that imperfect process.